Monday, April 27, 2009

Mobilization to End Poverty: Sunday Kickoff

I'm so exhausted I'm not tired anymore.

The contagious electricity pulsating through M2EP is still inside me, driving me to write this blog, even though my bed is calling out my name.

It'll be very stream of consciousness, though. And I can't guarantee logic or sense of any kind.

What a RIDE.

Oh man. I get to be surrounded by more than a 1000 social activists for 4 days. All walks of life. And God has blessed us with enough foolishness to believe we can do it: we can end poverty.

What a RIDE.

I just finished day two and it was all kinds of good stuff, but I don't want to leave out the amazing Sunday afternoon kick-off and it's too much to cram into one blog, so I'll compromise and get myself a day behind.

Three months ago I didn't know Priscilla, but still, I'm pretty sure we're friends for life, because only a true friend would let me rope her into spending hard earned dough to volunteer at a conference we both knew very little about.

I'm so so glad she's in it with me. Ending poverty is a lot more fun when you have a friend around.

We got to hear Jim Wallis, the President of Sojourners, speak. He's fantastic. And I love the fact that he's a little league coach and he spent the day leading up to the kick-off playing baseball.

I also had the privilege of hearing Congressman John Lewis preach. This guy has been through it. He has! He knew Dr. King. He played a part in the Freedom Rides and participated in sit-ins. Nearly everything out of his mouth was quotable. I scribbled furiously in my notebook throughout the whole affair. Here are a few of my favorites:

"I asked my mom and my grandparents and the rest of my family, 'why segregation?' And they said, 'That's the way it is, John. Don't you go and get in trouble.' But, let me tell you, I was inspired to get in trouble! I was inspired to get in the way!"

"What does it profit a great nation to gain the whole world, and lose her soul?"

He told a story of being in his aunt's house, a kind he called a "shot-gun" house. And a storm came and it was so bad they thought the house was going to blow away. And his aunt gathered his cousins and brothers and sisters and they huddled together and stayed in the house so that it would remain intact. He exclaimed to us, "We never left the house! Brothers and sisters, we must never leave the house." We must keep America, keep the people, keep the environment from blowing away.

I want to tell you about the phenomenal choir from Howard University, and the inspiring testimony of Rev. Darren Ferguson, who obtained his Masters Degree in prison.

I want to. But I am done, I think. And I would not do them justice.

Quick cool thing: God's Politics, the Sojourners blog will dive into the details I missed, complete with pictures and videos. My funny face even made it into a few shots. And this blog offers a little shout out to Priscilla and me [and lots of super spectacular volunteers and scholars]!

Better blogs to come, scouts honor.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pimping People: Part 2

It's been a long day of mostly nothing. It's not gone well, though. It's not gone well.

Lots of little things. A stupid fight with Jermaine. A provoking professor that just keeps going a little too far. Unexpected [and unwelcome] knowledge that we owe American University another $13,000. A call from my kid at 4pm - a mix-up with the sitter meant that she never got picked up. And then, to top it off, they gave us the wrong kind of meat in our Chalupa at Taco Bell.

I suppose I could add "getting a Chalupa at Taco Bell when we're flat broke".

I'm spent. In more ways than one. I want to go outside and get some fresh air. I hope I do, I think it would be good for boosting morale.

Before I wander off, though, I thought I'd take a moment to boost some other people's morale. Pimping in the purest sense of the word.

You might have noticed, if you've visited my blog before, that I've decorated it for Spring. I've also added some things. I am now a friend of the Emergent Village. This is the third time today I've added a link to that site. And for some reason, that gives me great pleasure.

I've also added some websites on the left that make me very happy. I've added a link to Jermaine's profile on Threadless. Now everyone go there right now and hype him up so he can win some money and we can throw it at the bill collectors.

I'm not sure if this is a shameless plug [or outright bragging] but, God forgive me, I've decided to mention it, anyway. I'm attending this conference in a couple weeks, which is hosted by Sojourners, called the Mobilization to End Poverty. I'd explain what it's about, but I fear it's too difficult to understand. It's going to be pretty wicked, though. You should go, if you want to be as cool as me [in which case you'd be thrice as cool as the 87,000th coolest person on the planet].

You may have also noticed that I added a couple more blogs to my "blogs I love" list [or you may have had better things to do than to check daily to see if I've updated my blog list [I do not, however, have better things to do and so I check hourly]].

A kind of love. is not the latest track by Enigma Records, but rather, a fabulous new interior design blog by my friend Priscilla. You should check it out, she's quite inspirational.

My lovely friend Jess has just recently updated her blog with a beautiful true story about her adventures with the Justice Project. I can't think of anything funny to say about it, so I'll just clamp up and move on.

A little pimp for me: I'm trying to bring traffic to my blog. If you feel so inclined, you would absolutely make my day if you were to become a follower of my blog. The benefit of following me: I'll have to go first down the big scary holes.

An upcoming bloggeriffic event: I'm going to blog the Bible! It's a bit of a copycat adventure, with a twist. David Plotz, editor of Slate Magazine, recently wrote the Good Book, a book inspired by his column in Slate, in which he blogged the entire Hebrew Bible. The real draw has to do with the fact that when it comes to the Bible, Plotz is a novice. I really want to read this book. I planned on buying it at a discount online before I started my Bible blogging adventure, but, unfortunately, we have to stick to the essentials for now, so it'll have to wait.

My blog will be a little different. I have a book called The Bible in 90 Days. So, the plan is, I guess, pretty self explanatory. I'm going to read what it tells me to read each day, and then blog my thoughts in the evenings. It will be similar to Mr. Plotz's undertaking, with some differences: 1) I am not the editor of an amazing online magazine [although, if a job opens up . . . ] 2) He blogged the Hebrew Bible [what some Christians call the Old Testament], I will be blogging both the Old and the New 3) He is a Jewish man and I am a Christian gal 4) He started his project because he realized that he hadn't read much of his Bible [especially the scary bits] and I am starting because I have read some of the scary bits and would like to explore them further [and hopefully generate some interesting conversations in the process].

I am going to try a contact him before I begin. I would like to attempt to get a go ahead, since he is the source of my inspiration for the project.

I have to go! I've been trying to finish this blog for a half an hour! I was going to complain about how our dear young dog is refusing flat out to be potty trained - but no there is no time!

Oh, wait, I just did.

PS. I am a Harry Potter convert!! Go Gryffindor!
PPS. I just finished book 4. Please don't spoil the ending by leaving a well-intended but not-helpful message. I will cry.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Peter's Journal: Sunday and Monday

My worst nightmare has turned into the best dream I could have never imagined!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love!

What kind of God is this I serve? What kind of God conceives of such a magnificent and terrifying plan of redemption?

I saw Him!! I actually SAW Jesus! He's alive! He's bloody alive!!!!!!!!!

I don't know what to do with this information - except to shout and sing and laugh and cry and dance a jig.

He forgave me! He did! After all I did, He still calls me His beloved follower.

He asked me if I loved Him. He asked so many times. I guess that's understandable, considering the way I behaved. I said I did, and He said, "Feed my sheep."

I am so ready to do that! I am so ready to love and forgive the way I have received those things! I am so ready to get up every day for the rest of my life and think, 'what can I do for the kingdom of God today?'

I feel like I could explode! Haha! I'm so happy! I'm so thankful! This plan - honestly, I don't understand every bit of it. But I know, deep down in my bones, that if Jesus can conquer death, then ANYTHING is possible. Anything!!

I look around - everywhere I look, stuff is absolutely
shining! Everything has this amazing new Jesus-luster. It's so beautiful. So, so beautiful.

I didn't get it! None of us did. He told us - he did - several times! We were so oblivious. I kind of wish I had been the one to have gotten it, but only a little. I'm sort of relishing in this humble joy-filled state He's put me in.

Oh! What a glorious, wonderful, spectacular day! Oh! What glorious, wonderful spectacular days to come! He said [or rather eluded to the fact] that I may have to die a horrible death. You know what? I don't care!! Haha, I don't care! He conquers ALL! He does! And He'll be with me, through it all - even if I can't see Him - I'll know He's there - loving me, forgiving my foolish mistakes.

Oh, praise God for Jesus! Oh praise God!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Peter's Journal: Saturday

I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep. Every time I close my eyes I see him . . . bloody, naked . . . dead.

I . . . I don't understand . . .

I don't have words . . . I want to die . . . I want to die.

Was it all for nothing? How can he be dead?

God seems so silent . . . if . . . there is a God . . .

What am I saying? I want to believe! But . . . I . . . I just don't understand . . .

I just don't understand . . .

Friday, April 10, 2009

Peter's Journal: Friday Morning [Edited]

[Painting of the apostle Peter by Alberta Rae (Sune') Richards]

The apostle originally named Simon; also called Simeon (Acts 15:14) and Cephas. A fisherman in business with James and John (Luke 5:2-3, 10); married, lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29-30).

Walked on water (Matthew 16:28-31). Confessed Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8: 27-30; Luke 9:18-21). At transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36; 2 Peter 1:16-18). Jesus predicted he would deny Him (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34;John 13:36-38); denial (Matthew 25: 69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18,25-27); restoration to "feed My sheep" (John 21: 15-19).

Spoke at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40); Healed people (3:1-10, 5:15, 9:34); raised Tabitha from the dead (9:36-43). Arrested and forbidden to preach ((4:1-31, 5:17-41). Saw vision: sent to Cornelius (Acts 10); reported Gentile conversions (Acts 11; 15); confronted by Paul for inconsistency (Galatians 2:11-14). Imprisoned by Herod; freed by angel (Acts 12:1-9).

Focused on Jewish Evangelism (Galatians 2:7). Wrote two letters (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1).

All of the preceding information was taken from page 1990 [the Concordance] of The Apologetics Study Bible.

I've done a little bit of online research, too. But I feel hesitant to publish my findings because it's hard to tell what's fact and what's rubbish. I did find a book - A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter, by Michael Card, and it seems like it might be a good read. Perhaps when I'm done with the 90+ books I own but haven't read, I'll take a peek into that one.

I think The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia seems to be most accurate and thorough biography of Peter that I've found. It's also an interesting site just to browse through - the homepage is doused with eyebrow-raising blogs from a uniquely Catholic perspective.

I'm sure I could go on for a very long time. But that is hardly necessary.

Peter's Journal: Friday Morning

What have I done?

My head is swimming, my eyes are red from lack of sleep and bitter tears, and my stomach is threatening to give up last night's meal any moment now.

I drank too much last night. At least, I think I did. I must have. It's all a blur. Jesus said something about me denying I that know him
. The wine, it seemed had given me extra boldness and my thoughts came up like word vomit - "I love You, Jesus! I truly do, and I would NEVER do anything like that!

How could I have been so stupid?

I should have known. What is wrong with me?

I haven't slept all night, er, since the garden. He asked us to stay awake and pray with Him. The wine had made me sleepy, I thought I'd just close my eyes for a second . . .

The next thing I know, Jesus was shaking me awake. I don't know if I've ever seen Him so upset. He has this look - it seems as if it can cut through my soul.

The next thing I know, Judas was standing next to us, with a bunch of other men. I didn't understand at first. Judas kissed Jesus. And then the men grabbed Him. I was boiling with anger. So I drew my sword and aimed to strike the awful man binding Jesus. But I didn't want to hit our Lord, of course, and it was so dark. I missed, and cut off this other guy's ear.

And Jesus was so angry. He said something about this being the cup that the Father had given Him.


And then they went to grab all of us. I think everyone got away. Everyone, except the One that matters.

We followed them, James and I, trying to be stealthy, to stay in the shadows. People kept asking me if I was one of His followers. I didn't want to blow our cover.

And then I remembered what Jesus had said. A wave of nausea washed over me and I just ran. I felt like I could cry and throw up all at once.

I don't understand! But I hate being at odds with Jesus. It's worse than any fight I've ever had. It's worse than when he called me "Satan", though that was pretty bad.

I just wish it were over. I wish Jesus would rebuke his captors and demand they set Him free. I don't know why he went so willingly! He is the Son of God! Why doesn't He act like it?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lay Offs, Peter's Journal, and the Easter Bunny

Where do I begin?

Er, well . . . Jermaine got laid off last week . . .

. . . Kind of put a damper on things.

I didn't take it well. Jermaine was full of mixed feelings; relief [from not having to go back to a job he didn't love], uncertainty, panic [he wanted me to add], hope and excitement [for what God was going to do next]. He felt that this was the first time he'd ever been tested - the first time he didn't have a safety net in place. And he was ready to give it all to God and see what the Lord has in store.

I was miles away in spirit. When he first told me, I laughed. We'd spent the day [last Friday] scraping up funds to pay for a way-past-overdue credit card so it wouldn't be charged off. We finally figured out a way to to do it and . . . wtf? I was in total disbelief.

Eventually, later that day, it did hit. And I felt numb with shock. I had said, only a few weeks ago [when he was called into his boss's office and we thought he was about to get the ax [though, of course, it didn't happen at that time]] that if he did, it may be a blessing in disguise. That if God was going to take this away from him, it was because God had something way better in store [and perhaps something that uses his unique gifts [graphic design and music/piano]. Now I suddenly wanted to kick myself for saying such rubbish.

Disbelief and shock wore off pretty quickly [less than 24 hours, I would say] and I was left with this horrible ache in my stomach that smelled distinctly like fear. I was scared. And depressed. I felt so out of control. I hated not knowing what was going to happen next.

I knew it wasn't a God thing. I knew that these feelings were not helpful, and that, in fact, they were probably quite harmful. I am an emotional creature, though, and I could not pull myself out of this destructive funk.

Saturday night, at dinner with some friends [an event Jermaine had to drag me to], I first began to experience Jesus at work pulling me out of the muck. Our friends graciously and honestly offered to help in whatever way they could. If not for times such as these, they exclaimed, what was community for?

We have known these folks for, like, two months! And I am still struck by their love and kindness.

Their caring and concern helped, a little. I thought it helped more than it did, I think. I wish it had helped as much as I thought it did [you get bonus points if you follow what I just said here - because I'm not even sure I do].

But, sigh. I am stubborn and, I believe, I wanted to stay in my [funky but familiar] funk.

Jermaine and I have argued, it seems, all week. It sucks so bad. We knew. We knew that this had the potential to pull us apart [as similar scenarios have done in the past]. We hoped against hope that it would do the opposite, and strengthen the bond between us. But we seemed to be fighting a losing battle.

Jermaine and I go about life very differently. He is very understanding toward the way that I operate. I am, however, not quite as accepting. I quickly became frustrated [too quickly]. Feeling that he wasn't doing enough to look for a job. Certainly not the way I would do it.

And so we fought. And we gave each other the silent treatment. We went to bed angry. We got up [and I was still angry]. Instead of praying to God for strength and perseverance, I focused on perfecting the art of holding a grudge [which, interestingly, is not normally my nature].

Yesterday, after about the fourth time we'd fought, made up, and burst into anger again, he walked up to me, put his arms around me and asked if we could just stop being mad at each other.

"Okay." I murmured, feeling weak and out of control. Let's just start there.

We still don't agree, of course. We still do things very differently. But we haven't fought since yesterday and considering the week we've had, that's a bit of a record.

I think that there are demonic forces working among us. Spiritual warfare, if you will. I said earlier I thought we were fighting a losing battle. I forgot, for a little while, the God who has already won the war.

I don't want to say I am still scared. If I am, I pray that God will take that fear away from me. And help me to focus on him. Jermaine thanked God for this lay off earlier today. I am so glad he did. I needed to hear that. A couple of blogs ago, I wrote about thanking God for all things. Compared to some of the things I thanked God for in that blog, this is nothing.

My friend Jess mentioned today that when a friend of ours was in mourning during a particularly sad time, she used to pray, "Lord, You do everything so well." Indeed. Indeed.

Today is Maundy Thursday. It is the day that [some of [it's traditionally been a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox kind of thing [think "high church"]]] the Christian church remembers the initiation of The Last Supper. On this night, 2000ish years ago, the disciples ate and drank jovially, ignorant to what was about to take place. The very next day, their Messiah was killed - crucified, and it seemed that nothing, nowhere - in the entire world could be worse than that moment, except perhaps, life afterward. Jesus, they thought, had failed. Something had gone terribly, terribly wrong.

And then, two days later . . . the rumors began. A couple of women were spreading some crazy things. That His tomb was empty. That Mary Magdalene, the former prostitute, had seen him. That he was alive - back from beyond the grave.

Of course, they didn't believe it, at first. How could they? These things just don't happen, right?

But then, there He was. Right in front of them. Oh! Glorious God, how can it be?

This seemingly horrific event [the worst thing in the entire world] turned out to be the greatest gift [in the entire world].

Lord, You do everything so so well.

And I think about Peter. I am so drawn to him. He is notoriously passionate and hot-headed. In love with the Savior and prone to wild mistakes. The night before Jesus died, after supper, He journeyed to a garden to pray. Jesus knew what was coming. He asked a few of his disciples to stay awake and pray with him, Peter was among them. They could not keep their eyes open. Right before he was arrested, a frustrated Jesus exclaims, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!" [Mark 14: 32-42]

And then, when Jesus is arrested, an enraged Peter takes out his sword [a sword he still carries despite Jesus's message of Love, Peace and a different kind of Kingdom] and cuts off the ear of the high priest's slave. Again, Jesus rebukes him, "Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given Me?" [John 18:10-11]

A few hours before all this, Jesus had revealed to Peter that he would deny Him three times. Peter was indignant. Surely he wouldn't [couldn't!] do that! But by Friday morning he faces the grave realization that Jesus spoke nothing but the truth. [John 18: 15-18; 25-27]

And I just feel for the guy. Man! He's really blown it.

Sunday morning, when the women discover the empty tomb, an angel is there, waiting to share the good news. He tells them, "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.'" [Mark 16:7] [Emphasis added.]

Peter probably didn't feel like a disciple anymore. But God is so incredibly merciful. And reading this story, I am struck with gratitude. Because I know I've been spots like these. And I know God has mercy on me, too.

This is the first year I have thought twice about the Holy Week. Last year, Jermaine and I told Sadie the truth about the Easter Bunny [and Santa Claus]. It's been a difficult year for her. Her first Christmas knowing the truth [which, I think, was considerably harder than Easter]. But she is a cool kid, and I think, may prefer to be in the know, taking her first small step out of childhood.

This last year, for me, has been difficult, too. God has been placing things [like Maundy Thursday and Lent] on my heart. Difficult, but rewarding, I guess I should add, because I feel that he is teaching me fascinating things about his personality, things that I was completely in the dark about.

Tomorrow, I will attend my very first Good Friday service. I crave the somberness that [I think God is teaching me] should accompany the next two days. I want to feel the deep, unspeakable loss that the disciples felt, so, on Sunday I may feel the immense joy, comfort and elation of the Resurrection.

I think God blessed me with a cool idea today. A bloggerific idea, I must say.

Peter's Journal: a fictional account of the feelings he endured 2000ish years ago [based on the Bible and a bit of internet research, probably].

For the next few days, I will "be" Peter [a brief biography will proceed the entries in case you want to learn more about who he is [though I am not not not an expert on any level]].

I think this may be a prayerful learning exercise for me from God. I said I wanted to know what it felt like . . .

You know what they say - be careful what you wish for.

Sweet dreams. And, as always, thank you for reading my blog.