Thursday, January 29, 2009

Psalm 86:1-13

A Prayer of David.
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,for you answer me.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord,and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,that I may walk in your truth;unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

This psalm is ministering to my soul today as I face the weight of disappointment. I received a letter this afternoon from Hope for New York informing me that they have chosen another candidate for the position of Volunteer Coordinator. I didn't realize how much I had placed my hope in this job until the door was slammed in my face. So for the last few hours, I have knelt before the Lord, asking Him to be the lifter of my head. To remind me that my hope is not set in any job, but in Him. To comfort me in the denial of a desire for this job by bringing my heart back to desiring Him. I trust Him. I trust that He is good and His goodness extends into every crevice of my life, even when I see disappointment, He is working out His will. He will provide. He is abundant in lovingkindness, the one who gladdens my soul, the one who hears my prayers, and He alone is God.

the "awesomeness" book list

One more thing...

I want to share with you guys some of the awesome books I am reading these days.
First book on my "awesomeness" book list:

The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology. Edited by Kevin Vanhoozer.

I totally recommend this book if you are looking for a more academic look at the theology that is coming out of the next wave of society. Really really good stuff. But definitely not a lite read.

And an extra side of wisdom please

In this morning's bible study (which I love!) I found myself experiencing something I'm sure most seminary trained students experience. I was listening to people, discerning their theology, seeing the dangers in their theology, the holes, and feeling the need to correct them, but not sure when or how. One of the girls was sharing about the book The Shack (which is next on my "fun" books to read). She shared about how the book explored the humanity and divinity of Jesus and as she was sharing I heard, what were in my mind, HUGE holes. The theology behind the discussion was something that had been lettered as heresy in the early church, and now here we were sitting in a coffee shop in Manhattan, two young women, discussing this concept. And I wanted to throw my arms up and stop my new friend from going any further into this heretical discourse, to lead the group in a short and succinct, yet theologically sound, lecture on the early church's formation of the dual nature of Christ. But I didn't, and within 30 seconds the conversation had moved onto a different topic completely unrelated. Those 30 seconds were long enough however to make me keenly aware of the struggle that had just occured in my heart. I had the theological training to spot the problem, to discern the "off-ness" of the theology being presented. But I hadn't really been trained to share it outside of the format of the 10 page paper or a formal presentation. How do you learn these things? Should I be upset by the apparent lack of training I received in my theological education. For what good is theology if not shared and applied? No, I think Westminster did me a great good in training me to discern the theology under peoples words and actions, and now I need to pray for wisdom to move past the ivory tower, to use this training in the coffee shop conversations.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some photos of the Room

My bed, with Charlie chilling

Lots and lots of stuff

And my desk. with an awesome view

a new "do"

I promised some of you a picture of my new haircut. I love it. It was inspired by a combination of Carrie Bradshaw's short hair and a few too many hours watching the moveover shows on cable.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

lessons learned from boys

So it's late, but I have to write this blog. I am reading a book, an excellent book, called when Life and Beliefs Collide (by Carolyn Custis James). It is my bedtime book this week. I have read a plethora of other books for my thesis, but this book is a personal fun one. It's about women and theology. The chapter I am on right now is exploring the reasons women stay away from theology and I have to say, it has struck a chord. The Lord has placed me in a season of life where I am truly learning what it means to be a theologian. A woman theologian. And not to fear being a theologian. It's odd to me that I would even hesitate to be one. Being raised by my feminist mother, I can't imagine much that men can do and women can't.

But this season, I have been confronted by people, friends even, who seem to espouse the idea that women should be wives and mothers and that having any dreams that are larger than that means you must be called to singleness. As I was reading the book tonight and working through these excuses for staying away from theology, I felt a knot deep in my stomach. I realized that this season of confrontation is teaching me about men. I've always said that I wanted a husband who loved studying theology and whose theology I could respect. But I am realizing another side to this coin: I need a husband who is okay with, no, actually one who wants a wife that loves theology.

The past 5 years have been filled with lessons and this is another one. I feel like I can look back and see the men that God has brought in and out of my life and I see the lessons I have learned from them. Some of these men have been examples of true godliness. Some of them have encouraged me and taught me that it is okay to be who I am, nerdiness and all. Other guys though, have crushed my spirit. Telling me (usually in essence, not words) that I can't be a theologian and a woman. That the desires I have are wrong, or they make me ineligible for being a wife or mother. Or that my strength is a bad thing. Or that I shouldn't be so concerned with theology- it's a boys' game.

Well, I am here to tell you that the Lord has taken this broken, self-righteous sinner and made her His own work. He has enabled me to serve the body of Christ and by His grace (AMEN!) I will do so. This may come off sounding proud, which honestly would not be surprising since I struggle greatly with pride. But I feel like recently there has been such an attack on my womanhood. I can't be a strong and intelligent theologian and a woman.

Oh Lord, restore us women to a place of seeking your face. Of wanting to know you more deeply (which by the way is theology!) and give us strength to love you and know you intimately as women.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

a people in Egypt

At this mornings bible study, one of the girls commented on the phrase "You alone are God" and how the people of Israel being surrounded by all the nations, saw the other gods and were proclaiming the superiority of the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And we pondered as a group on how we can understand this concept in our own times. I made some quick comment about the "wilderness of Manhattan". But I've come back to this thought now and realized just how applicable this concept is. We may not have many wooden and clay statues being worshiped throughout the city, but we do have clothes, jewelry, and shoes. What is a god if not something that we worship. Something we give the right to define who we are. What kind of shoes do you wear?
So this got me thinking. Is it wrong to wear name brand shoes? Well, let's look back to our brothers and sisters as they lived in the land of Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped many things in creation, even the sun and the river. Were the Israelites then supposed to refrain from using these various parts of creation since another people group were abusing them? (Not that you can not use the sun, good luck with trying that one!) No, Israel was supposed to use God's creation, to care for God's creation, as God's steward over creation. So, today. What do we do with clothes, jewelry, and shoes? There has to be some way to balance the use and cultivation of culture and creation without worshiping it. I'm not sure this is the kind of thing where you can put down 10 easy rules to follow. It's a heart matter.
In Christian circles, there seems to be either an ignorant and passive acceptance of the idols of our culture or an active rejection of not only the idols of our culture, but the culture as a whole. Neither of these is biblical. The key is not acceptance nor rejection, but submission.

Thursdays thoughts

What a time of change in my life. I can almost feel the thoughts running through my mind and I know some of the thoughts will become dreams, which will become plans, which will turn into actions, and before I know it, these thoughts will turn into my life. Not all of my thoughts will take this course, but I know each thought has that possibility.
Some reflections for a Thursday morning:

I love this city. The same way you can judge extroverts and introverts by where they gain energy (people or solitude), I think you can judge people based on whether they get energy from the city or the country. I am a city girl through and through. I love the city, the business, the sounds, the people, the diversity, the architecture, the food, the rhythm. Don't get me wrong, I love the park too, but my favorite part of the park is along the outskirts, where you have trees around you but you can see the buildings shooting up from behind the trees, an ever reminder of the city that lies just yards away.

I am blessed. Truly, truly blessed. I have started going to the Village Church in the west village. And this morning I joined a group of women from the church for an early morning bible study. And these women, girls really, remind me of my dearest friends who would join me at Dunkin Donuts each week. There is something so beautiful about sisters coming together and sharing their relationships with the heavenly Father. And these women this morning were so honest about their struggles, their relationships, and their awe of the love of Jesus. Nothing can replace what I have with Ashlee, Danielle, Rachel, and all the other sisters who have been by my side for so many years, but hanging out with these girls this morning was a reminder of the Lord's provision of all things.

Someone recently, after hearing me share about my dreams, said that I might be called to singleness. At first I was hurt. I want to be a wife, a mom. But last night as I was lying in bed, I got this idea in my head to open up a center in Santiago where gringos could come, learn Spanish, work in the community, and get accustomed to the culture. We could even do training for ESL and then help them get jobs, and maybe help them find some kind of more permanent housing. I was thinking about all this, and still thinking about it all today, and I realized that there are so many things I want to do. Really, off hand I could list 10 different lives I would love to live. And with so much that I'd love to experience, maybe marriage isn't for me. Maybe I am called to singleness. Well, I'm not deciding anything today (as if I could!). I know that if the Lord brings a guy into my life, I will happily go down that road. But until that time comes (if it does at all), I am so excited to be single, to be full of ideas, and to see life as full of potential.

Monday, January 19, 2009

one week

Today marks the end of my first week in New York City. I came to New York with a lot of hopes and a few reservations. One of my greatest reservations (in fact it is the one thing that I thought might drive me back to California) was the cold. And the truth is, this last week has been the coldest in years and while I can attest to the bitterness of the cold, it hasn't been unbearable. Not at all. In fact, I like the snow here in the City. I'm not a huge fan of the slippery sidewalks, but it is worth it for the amazing view from my favorite window seat in Starbucks. These huge flakes fall in crazy patterns unto the busy sidewalks where people with bright colored jackets, scarves, and mittens are quickly walking to get to their warm destination. It's one of the best sights you can get from a Starbucks window. So my fears of cold aside, there is little that is stressing me here in New York. Of course there will be things that frustrate me or hardships that I will face in the future, but this week was just lovely. I love the church I'm in (a blog post will come soon). I love the different neighborhoods. I love the fact that I have so many ties here to the city (Jews for Jesus, The Village Church, SEIU 32BJ, and the random friends that live here- Ali and Diana that's a shout out to you girls!). And I love just living here. I still have heard nothing from the job that I applied for with Hope for New York, but I am trusting that if it doesn't happen then it will be God's way of shutting the door. No matter what, I am grateful that I get this time here. I love this city!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A despedida.... for Charlie

Here are some of the photos from my goodbye party last Saturday night. It was such a sweet time of hanging out with all the random people who were my life in Philly. I made people take pictures with Charlie, my beloved hippo. Extra brownie points to whoever can tell me who Charlie is named after.

Joel, or "ho-el"

Laura Andrews, all smiles

Grahame liked me scarf, a little too much

Katie practicing her mothering skills

Mellis showing Charlie some cheese

Michelle and Brooke

Stephen Lu, abusing Charlie of course!

Seth and Nate, and Charlie nudging Seth, he is a cuddler
Steve Light doesn't mind the cuddling

Laura says, "you're pretty cute!"

Bobby is sad to see Charlie go, or wait, is it ME he's sad to see leave?

Chris Martin chillin'

Me and girls

Eric cuddling with Charlie

So this could be awkward, but somehow not much could be awkward between Chris and I.

Laura and the Pennypacker

Lexie and Jason

Kmack and Megan... my girls!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heart and the City, a new Carrie Bradshaw

The window in my 5th floor apartment bedroom over looks 31st street. More than the street itself, when I sit at my desk to work, I look out upon the tops of the surrounding buildings and watch the snow falling onto the rooftop patios, and the twilight slowly paint the sky a golden red. And I feel like some younger (and christian) version of Carrie Bradshaw. I think every girl who watches Sex and the City identifies with Carrie. The constant search for a man who will love you and even accept you. It seems easy for Carrie to find men who will love her (in the one night stand kind of way) but it isn't quite as easy to find the man who will accept all of her. Not that I have had any one night stands, nor am I planning on picking up that habit, but I understand the string of men that come in and out of Carrie's life as quite similar to the string of men that come in and out of my heart. They all seem to have so much potential, until we are up close the personal. Then it becomes quite clear that we are all wrong for each other.

The past few days, I've hung out with a guy who I used to think might have potential to be more than just a friend. But the more we hang out, the more I am convinced that we could never be happy together. We see the world completely differently. It is not just a matter of different ecclesiological preferences, but actual contrasting theologies. I could never be the wife he wanted and he thinks my hopes and dreams mean that I am either called to singleness or just not ready for marriage. Now, I may be called to singleness, but that would be the Lord's calling, not a result of my having too many gifts and hopes that could be used outside of the home. My ambitions are not in anyway mutually exclusive with marriage or motherhood. It has taken me a few days to come to this perspective and to be okay with letting this one go. Needless to say, this is one relationship I will skip. If I have learned anything from Carrie it is this: The pleasures that come with being in love are not worth the pain of loving the wrong person.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Big Apple Livin'

So I've finally done it. I've moved to New York. I remember dreaming of living in New York when I was in college. I imagined the coffee shops I would go to, the street fairs I would shop at, and the parks I would read in. And now I am here. I moved up here yesterday and am almost done unpacking. I walked up to Redeemer Church offices today, near Herald Square and turned in my resume for a job. Actually, it's my dream job and I am shocked by my calm concerning this job. The Lord has given me faith to see that if I get it, it was His work. If I don't get it, it was His work. As I walked back to my apartment, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the walk along 36th, down Madison, further along 34th. The buildings rise up around you, tucking you in, each unique and telling a story. And finally I made it back to my apartment, checked my email, and crawled into bed for a midafternoon nap. Hard life, I know. But in all honesty, either it hasn't hit me that I live here, or for whatever reason, I feel really at home here in New York. Goodness, I am grateful to the Lord for His faithfulness!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

So the new year. This past year was filled with so much growth and more than ever, I look back and can recognize work the Lord has done over this past year. This is particularly true with my heart. I am more content in my singleness than ever, and yet feel like relationship could be just around the corner. I have been a little confused these past few days. Hopefully the guy I am referring to in this blog doesn't ever read it, but in any case I'd like to give a little insight to the madness and confusion that is my heart. So I've gotten to know a few of the guys here at school and there is some awesome genuineness among them. So one of them and I have talked a bit outside of class and decided to go to lunch. Well, our lunch date turned into a dinner date, which ended up feeling more like an actual "date" than just a hanging out time. It wasn't a date. But it threw my heart into a state of confusion. And I'm moving to New York in a few days, so really nothing can happen. But I find myself confused, alone, and scared. But pretty. (That's for you, Ashlee). I am confident of this though: I have grown a lot this last year, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And whatever happens, it will be different than anything I have experienced in the past. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe the whole world will happen. Like I said, confusion.

A recap on end of the year goodness

My hot date, second year in a row

The hostesses enjoying the champagne, even though one of them is on call with the hospital

Jello shots!

Me and the Pennypacker dancing it up!

First blog for the new year. Before I write on the topic for the morning (my confused and twisted heart), I wanted to mention that this past Christmas was the best Christmas ever. I arrived in California on the 21st and spent a few days with my friend Sarah, cleaning her apartment so she could move out and enjoying each others company. I got to see Leah, Melinda, Katie, Carleigh and Chubs. I didn't expect to get to see so many friends in those short two days, so it was a super blessing. Then I went to my mom's house and had an awesome Christmas Eve. We're Swedish, so we do the whole candle lighting tradition. I got to meet my sister's boyfriend who won my approval almost immediately and had some cool conversations with my brother about God and religion. Then, Christmas day I headed back into the city to volunteer with my dad. We helped a ministry that serves the homeless with their Christmas celebration. After a few days hanging out with my dad, and a morning with Chubs and her family, I headed down to San Luis Obispo to see AShlee and Danielle. Man oh man, there is nothing like good friends. After all that fun, I headed back to my mom's to chill for a while before I came back to Philly. It was the most amazing, relaxing, and yet fun-filled week ever. When I got back to Philly, my sweet little Lizzy was waiting for me at the airport. She is one of my favorites! So after a rocking New Years Eve party, we spent a few days doing touristy stuff around Philly, and just enjoying each others company. She left Monday and classes started yesterday. It was a great holiday. Great. And now I face this exciting time of change as I finish up my time at Westminster and move to New York. What a gift from the Lord to enter this time feeling refreshed and rested.