open up your eyes.

1. Hello.

2. Nothing much to write about these days. There is work, there is coming home from work and puttering around the house and doing laundry and cleaning up and such, there is applying for jobs, there is attempting to assess my life, there is a lot of church. And such is my life these days.

3. I have been thinking lately, though, about ways to get out of the routine a little bit. There are projects I could be doing, work I could get done around the house, people I could be reaching out to. I have plans to go out of town several times in the next couple of months, so you’ll be reading about that soon, I’m sure.

4. We’ve been praying together as a church on Sunday nights–or a small contingent of us have, anyway–for renewal and revival in our church and in the city of Houston. Revival’s one of those things that I feel like a lot of people in our church haven’t personally experienced, and so it’s kind of weird trying to discuss it when very few of us know what it’s actually like, and even weirder asking God to do it. When I was younger, when I was a new Christian and I first read about revival, I used to pray for it all the time; the past few months have found me asking for it again for the first time in years. I’ve written here before that it feels like the sparks of something are in the air. I wonder if now they’re not beginning to turn into flames. Small ones now–maybe a blaze later.

5. I still haven’t seen The Hunger Games. My dad just bought the books and I’m making him actually read the first one before he can go and see it. (He watched all the Harry Potter movies until Goblet of Fire and then read Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows before the fifth movie came out. I don’t understand him sometimes.)

6. Maybe I had more to write about than I thought.

7. Y’all be good. Love you.

books that have been helpful in keeping me Christian and keeping me sane.

If I were building a church library, I’d want these as a starter kit. Also, I am obviously omitting the Bible from this list, since I figured that is a given. Sorted by category, otherwise in no particular order.

Fiction (most of which are pretty obvious, but some [hopefully] not)
Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
C.S. Lewis, the Space Trilogy
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia (and its excellent companion, Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia, which, read alongside the Narniad, will blow your mind)
Andrew Peterson, the Wingfeather saga (the fourth book of which is still being written as of March 2012, but the other three are out, and wonderful)
Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear It Away
Douglas Coupland, Life After God (Mr. Coupland is emphatically not Christian, but this is a good insight into how a lot of people in our culture view spirituality)
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

A trio of books on basic Christianity that does not include John Stott’s Basic Christianity, but only because I haven’t read it
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Tim Keller, The Reason for God
N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

Big books about doctrine
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (and its little brother, Christian Doctrine)

Spiritual memoirs
Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God
Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Four Souls
Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk
Augustine, The Confessions

Christian life & the disciplines & church things
Tim & Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath
Lauren Winner, Real Sex
Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places
Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book
Brad House, Community
John Piper, Desiring God
John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God
Marva J. Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly
Carolyn Custis James, When Life and Beliefs Collide
J.I. Packer, Knowing God
Athanasius, On the Incarnation
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
Donald Miller, A Million Miles In a Thousand Years
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

And two prayer books
Book of Common Prayer
The Valley of Vision

Got any suggestions for things I should have included?

sun and stars besides

I hope you’re doing well, dear
Despite the world’s transitions
I know you’ve been through hell, dear
And pain has no conditions

I’m doing fine these days, love
In spite of my addictions
To hurt and heat and sorrow
And joy is my contrition

We could be beggars, we could be outcasts
We could be strangers forever and ever
We could inherit all of the cosmos
And the sun and stars besides

I know we’re not okay, dear, we never were to start with
But know that in the day’s clear light stars still break the darkness

And all our past and future collide here in the present
Sewn up here in the sutures of glory luminescent

We could be princes, we could be heroes
We could be fire forever and ever
We could bring beauty to all the planets
And the sun and stars besides

And if I could but ask you
To hold me like a promise
I’d take you as a shelter
From the mercy falling on us

We could be beggars, we could be heroes
We could be warriors forever and ever
We will rise over all of the cosmos
And the sun and stars besides

the resurrection of the body / the life everlasting

oh mama mary, we’ve been waiting
for your boy to come so long
and i know you are, too
your bones long lying in the grave

john laid them down after
loving you like a son
and then wrote about his Master’s
coming back to raise them up

to earth’s womb we all must go
though we have already been born again
we will be reborn and reborn every day
until that great morning

oh, but mama mary, i will not ask you to pray for us
there’s too much on your mind
so i’ll pray along with you–
peace. peace. peace.