saturday session (9/16/17)

Hi, everybody. It’s Saturday. I’m getting over a sinus-and-chest congestion something (I blame all the post-Harvey crap in the air) and the steroid I got put on is making me feel a little crazy. But life continues to be mysterious and grand. I’ve had multiple lovely conversations with friends this week, and my prayer life is somehow opening up, and God is good.

On to the links!

  • A handful of H-E-B employees rode out Harvey together at their store.
  • Holy smokes, this is gorgeous. I’ve had the chorus stuck in my head for the past couple of days. (Also, who else is excited that Prairie Home Companion is starting back up in a couple of weeks?)
  • Something something millennials and avocados. Whatever, this is cute.
  • Jim Carrey recently made a short film about art and Christ and Pop Culture posted an excellent article about it.
  • I WANT TO GO TO HERE.
  • Wendy Alsup wrote an excellent article for Christianity Today about women’s head coverings, Old Testament captives of war, and protecting the dignity of women.
  • The church I visited last week opened their service with this song and I’ve had the chorus to this one stuck in my head all week, too.
  • And I’ve been praying the Lord’s Prayer differently after hearing this sermon that ties it to the Two Great Commandments (love God and love your neighbor).

Have an excellent rest of your weekend. Love y’all.

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Christ, My Only Lasting Comfort

(music to come once I figure out a tune)

Christ, my only lasting comfort
Christ, the refuge from the storm
Save from wrath and sin and danger
Bring this wanderer safely home
Pleasures fade and sorrows linger
Life with trials hard may press
Thou the only true joy-bringer
Thou alone can give me rest

Earthly treasures break and crumble
Rust and moth and thief will steal
Still my stubborn heart would grumble
To my idols would appeal
None but Jesus satisfies me
None but Thee could fill my soul
Thou art able, Thou art willing
Come, Lord Jesus, make me whole

May I know Thee in Thy dying
May I know Thee in Thy life
So to lose my selfish striving
So to win Thee, greatest prize
May I fix on Thee my vision
May toward heaven my heart be aimed
Thou art better than all riches
Thou art fairer than all gain

saturday session

Maybe I’ll just start doing this every week–a round up of recommendations and links and other things. Well. Let me just get through this first go and see what happens from there.

How are you folks today? How are you, fellow Houstonians? How are you dealing with Harvey aftermath? I was supposed to be in Orange today, helping a friend who’s a pastor there as his church got together to clean out houses, but I was experiencing some, um, gastrointestinal distress this morning and, well, now I’m sitting on my living room floor typing this.

It’s been a strange few weeks. First my church stopped meeting on Sunday mornings, then Harvey made landfall and drowned my city, and now we’re dealing with the aftermath of all of that. Three households from Kaleo got water in their buildings, which makes me sad. There’s a whole section of town where the water hasn’t drained off yet, almost two weeks later. And then DACA, and then an earthquake in Mexico City, our southern neighbors, and then Irma barreling through the Caribbean straight towards Florida. Scary times.

I’ve been very impressed, though, by how the body of Christ has stepped up and loved this town, and how it’s loving the other communities that got hit–Corpus Christi, Rockport, Beaumont, Orange, Port Arthur. And they will love their immigrant neighbors and Mexican neighbors and Caribbean and Floridian neighbors, I believe. The strange thing about being a Christian is that we bear the presence of God to the rest of the world–at the very least, that is what it means to be the temple of the Holy Spirit–and so we go out to give money and time and supplies and work to prove God’s love to the world. Mystery.

Anyway, here are some links. Hope y’all have a good weekend.

  • My aforementioned pastor friend is raising money for his church so they can help folks rebuild their lives; donate here.
  • Churches in the Houston metro area that are doing awesome Harvey relief work: Bayou City Fellowship, City Church, the Sojourn Network, Christ Community Church, Houston Northwest Church (select “Harvey Flood Relief”). And my church, such as it is, is raising money here.
  • And I just found about Harvey Relief Hub–they need stuff and they need volunteers today (Saturday) and tomorrow.
  • Our local magazine has been doing some excellent Harvey coverage.
  • Now for something completely different: You should probably read this Ta-Nehisi Coates piece. I disagree with Mr. Coates on a lot of stuff, but the article’s still worth a read; he says some pretty acute things about race in America.
  • The Bible Project’s doing a word study on the Shema and their video about the word “heart” is especially lovely.
  • And for something that doesn’t matter that much in the long run but is pretty great nonetheless, Target’s new women’s clothing line makes me want to spend a whole paycheck on it.
  • Finally, I’ve been playing this version of “Good Good Father” a lot lately–I know some of you, dear readers, straight up don’t like this song, or you might have a complicated relationship with it, but it’s been sorely needed by this particular heart recently. He is perfect in all of His ways to us.

Be excellent to one another.

 

post-diluvian

Rain doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
(it takes and it takes and it takes…)

The trees
The houses
The bayous
Are all drowning

The guts of houses
Fallen limbs
Scraps of lives
Now rotting on

The lawns we planted
As attempts to control
A wild and waste world
In which we are so small

This beautiful city
Baptized in the water
Of a world that groans
Heavenward to be born again

lovely quote from a book i read during the flood

God doesn’t respond to Job’s misery with explanations or dismissive comments. Instead, he calls Job’s attention to the confusing wonder of the world we live in. He leads Job from the mystery of his suffering to the mysteries of creation, from puzzle to puzzle, from wonder to wonder. And as Chesterton puts it, “The secret of God is a bright and not a sad one.” In the skipping of mountain goats, the thunder of snow, and the crashing of oceans, there’s a wink and smile, a God who is joyful and even playful in the midst of the madness. While we may not be able to comprehend it, there is—at least to God—sensibility and an order. The universe is a Cosmos after all, and Chesterton tells us its maker has a smile and a sense of humor, even as he reminds us of our smallness in its midst. He calls our attention from the midst of sorrows to the broader world where sorrows are one mystery among many.

–from Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper


 

right now (August 2017)

Making: I’m on a knitting hiatus for the time being, so nothing, really.

Cooking: I’m crashing at a friend’s during all this rain here in Houston and we had some pretty decent tacos the other night–ground beef, plus onions and peppers and mushrooms cooked in the beef juice. Otherwise we’re eating a lot of pb&j and chips and trail mix, like college students.

Drinking: Coffee and water. Drank the last Diet Coke yesterday.

Reading: The news.

Trawling: Social media, for more news and to check in on folks.

Wanting: This effing rain to stop, y’all. And also to get out and see what the damage is.

Looking: For something to read besides the news. And for ways to help.

Deciding: What to get at the grocery store when we can get out. There’s an HEB around the corner from the house, so we can walk there, but their operating hours are limited because folks can’t get out to work.

Listening: A podcast on the Enneagram called Typology (my friend is currently learning more about me than she bargained for since this is an episode about 4s).

Buying: I bought a giant bag of trail mix the other day; there is a pack of ramen and a bag of beef jerky sitting in my car, which is parked in a garage five blocks away….

Watching: We marathoned the first season of Broadchurch the other night; we’ve had Friends and Gilmore Girls on intermittently, too.

Marveling: Grateful that this street is relatively dry and still has power and that I get to hang out with my friend mostly worry-free. There are so many folks who don’t have this right now.

Cringing: Sinus pressure sucks, y’all.

Needing: See “wanting”: please pray the rain stops, soon.

Questioning: Not much right now, which is kind of interesting. I’m grateful to have a pretty solid theology of suffering during stuff like this.

Smelling: All the rain in the air.

Wearing: Right now? PJ pants (they have pockets!) and a Baylor t-shirt I got for $2 at Goodwill.

Noticing: I may need to eat another pb&j soon…

wind and current

for the people of kaleo church
2004-2017

i washed up on this beach
my ship splintered by the storm and sea
myself bruised and broken

someone carried me into this village
and you watched while i got stitched back together
you didn’t need to know what happened before
just that i needed looking after

you let me sit at your table
you let me sing with you by your fire

and when the thunder and lightning
sent me screaming for cover
you were the shelter i needed

and when i got brave enough to tell my story
you were the ones who listened
and then you showed me your own scars
and told me how you got them

and now we all go sailing toward other islands
in search of other places to make our homes

wherever the wind and the current may lead you
may you land somewhere as kind as you have been to me

brief follow-up.

Thanks for all the love and support that came from that last post. We’re all obviously in a pretty tough season right now and I have no idea where I’m going to end up church-wise. I’m also working through some issues that have risen in my own heart over the past few weeks that I didn’t realize were there, and that’s less than fun. But I trust in the good hand and the good heart of God, and where He is leading I want to go.

It’s a strange thing, too–I feel like, right here at the end of my church existing, I’m starting to relearn what it means to love Jesus and love people. Not that I didn’t learn that while I’ve been here, but the past few years I think I’ve forgotten, for a number of reasons. (See also: Issues.)

We’re all going to be okay. Some of us aren’t right now, though, and I hate that for them. (I hate that for you, if you’re reading this and you’re one of those folks.) So please keep praying for us, if you’re the kind that prays.

the gracious and terrible “no”

This is what happens sometimes: You plead with God for something for years and years, and He keeps letting you ask until finally, painfully, He says “no.” I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of this, or to have some hidden insight into why God does this (or does anything). I do know this: The “no” is not because He doesn’t love us, and neither is the drawn-out asking.

My church‘s last public service is next Sunday. After nearly thirteen years of existence and prayers for growth and health and for His kingdom to come to Houston through our being there, we’re closing. We voted about it this morning, after about a month of discussions and real, gut-punched grief.

This is the end of my having been a member of a church for nine years, of having worked for said church for three years and some change. This is God’s gracious and terrible “no” after having said “yes” to so many other things.

There’s much that could be said here, and there are stories around that are not mine to tell. What is my story to tell is this: While my church has been a source of love and healing to me, for the past few years it’s also been a cause for anxiety and sadness, and a great deal of me is breathing a sigh of relief. We’re not closing because of sin or disunity or anything like that, which is a small miracle in and of itself. The choice was made by people I trust, and I believe God is using this to send us out into places where we can grow and flourish in the gifts that He’s given us for the benefit of the church in ways we’ve not been able to.

But that being said, this is still a heartbreaking thing, and there are people I love who are very upset about it, and I want to give them room to be upset about it. It’s going to be pretty hard for a while, even after our last service.

So pray for us, if you’re so inclined–pray for healing of hearts, pray that my pastor and his family can find a place they can settle into, pray that we all find new churches where Christ is exalted. And pray that we will continue to love each other well.