Monday, January 28, 2008


Julie graduates and leaves us for the big city

What G-Nickname are you? "Homie G"

The first girl I met was this one, Julie G. She started the whole "G" nickname phenomenon. I pulled up in a car filled with the contents of my bedroom, shaken and scared to leave home. She was completely casual and friendly and helped me unload it in no time. Room 13--the hottest in the house--right above the boiler. We ate dinner together, watched movies together, even brushed our teeth together. She liked to giggle about the small things, like one girl's comment about the bugs that make their way into peanut butter... "Mmm, extra protein," we joked. I then went about making up several colored announcements about the extra protein of our future sandwiches to be collected throughout the house and taped the papers above our door. Then I made some more announcements that room thirteen was the property of the coolest of cools, Homie G.

She took away so much of the stress of my life. Laughing with her was therapeutic, though I don't know if she ever realized what she was doing for me. I know I spent many of those first nights unable to sleep, trying to reconcile my new unleashed freedom with my former abandoned life, listening to Sarah McLaughlin and being sad till the sun broke. She caught me. She eventually asked me what was bothering me. She sat right next to me as I received my first few phone calls from my parents. I am indebted to her in a way I will never be able to repay.

It didn't take long for her to wander into asking me if I had heard about Jesus. I said that I had a little bit. She asked me if I believed in Him. I didn't quite understand, but I said "I think He's real." She later found it a frustrating but important mission to introduce me to the concept that if I did believe in Him then I should also live to please Him, and things like going to a frat party wasn't the best of choices. I had no idea why, in fact I had never been to a party before in my life. After a while though, I came around and her patience, filled with compassion, paid its worth.

Julie was always an adventurer at heart. One day the sun was shining and she said, "Do you see that hilltop over there? I want to climb it to the top." So the three of us did, though in order to succeed we had to make our way through a few yards and several patches of blackberry thorns. She rallied the house to try new things. When we were in SunRiver I tried renting cross-country skis for the hills covered in snow. I had a long, sad Peanuts Charlie Brown tredge on the sidewalk back; I didn't get it. She loved to go on hikes and see new places. The first summer together when I had moved home she came with my family to Silver Falls State Park and did the seven mile hike like a breeze. She also loved to ride her bike and always rode it cross campus. She and I loved the outdoors. We spent time discussing the geology and vegetation everywhere we traveled. Jenn had enough one time and said, "Uhh, I didn't know two people could talk so long about plants and trees!!"

Julie has a special talent to be connected no matter where she goes. Jenn and I are constantly astounded that when we're in a new area talking to strangers she and they end up knowing mutual people. A couple years ago Julie spent a few weeks traveling alone through Europe, and wouldn't you know it that she met a young woman her age who had gone to her church in Eugene for several years. They continued on through a few countries enjoying the company. She remembers every detail ever said by all the people she knows, and she has friends in every town, soon to be every nation! Though I believe she could do well without the insanely tiring attention of Jamaican men. My skinny 5'11" beautiful friends attract attention wherever they go!

I'll never forget what she did for me when we had only known each other for a few months. On Wednesday nights she would come over to my parents' house and sweep me away to church, the first time I attended anywhere in consistency: The People's Church, which was Assembly of God in affiliation. I saw her and many others worshiping. I was not quite so outward in my expression of affection but way down deep inside I was utterly moved. Many times the congregation expressed its worship in dance. I remember Julie getting out in the isles and dancing and inviting me to come with. One time many members came down to the altar area and made a giant circle and everybody held hands and did a dance. I'll never forget these times My Julie G. She took me to her churches whenever we lived together, and I learned so much, and grew so much.

She didn't know her father nearly at all, since he left her mom when she was very young. She wore her weaknesses outwardly, and was not afraid to do so, because she knew that prayer and worship were her way out of the troubles of life.

She is devoted as the LORD is to listen to everyone and not judge them. She is humble and open to anything as long as it isn't improper. To her credit she endured years of living in the La Femme Nikita Lair, as it soon became unavoidedly known when I made several poster collages of images from the tv show and hung them outside in the hallway.

Living in Seattle as a manager of other civil engineers working on bridges in the area, for WSDOT. Here are two video projects she oversaw concerning their work:


Sunday, January 27, 2008


Julie is driving as the three of us are red-bandanna wearing-travelers to southern Oregon

What G-Nickname are you? "Professional Girlfriend (Pro-GF)"

Jenn was the boldest of the three occupants of room #2. She introduced me to many new things. One of the first things we did together was go to a tanning salon across from campus. It was only five dollars and I thought it was kinda cool, though when I discovered later in the week that my backside looked like a zebra because of a cheap bed, I decided that I was good as-is. She proved to both Julie and I it was possible that when we are late to church and makeup must be delegated to commuting time, driving with the knees could successfully be done at excessive speeds on isolated country roads the whole way. Her car was the "Chevette," and it was old and unpredictable, nearly legendary. One time she came down with pneumonia and many of us in the lodge couldn't tell if it was time to take her into the ER, but eventually some others carried her body down and I drove her car. We stayed with her till her parents arrived. She ended up needing fluids and turned out okay.

She also introduced me to the practice of skinnydipping. An isolated bend to the Calapooia River was the first place I experienced a current while swimming. I found an intriguing rock in the riverbed, which makes me think of going back one day--it is one of the few gemstone-bearing rivers in the valley. One day she proposed to Julie and I from beneath our window. I have a picture of it though it is hard to capture digitally. The lodge was preparing for their winter-retreat to SunRiver's resort across the Cascade Mountains, and her family let her utilize a broke-down 80s Suburban to carpool several girls of the house. Actually, she was merely parked in front of the house while loading, and got tired of not being heard while yelling up, so she climbed up to the roof of the SUV and serenated her love for all the world to hear.

I got her (and many members of the lodge) into watching La Femme Nikita together, and then we practiced dressing up like Nikita and taking pictures of each other. Julie was a little unsure in our choice of role model, to her credit. At least she appreciated the hilarious answering machine greeting we constructed with the opening soundtrack in the background and our best voices in a low-toned Australian accent. We dyed our hair often. One time she and I strategized on which box to pick to produce her as a strawberry blonde, and no kidding it turned out as orange flames of fire. She wore a bandanna because even she thought it was too much.

We also spent some time kind-of-stalking. She had a crush on a coworker at Safeway and she was friends well enough with him to know where he lived. We absolutely knew better but she couldn't help wasting time and neither could I. At least we learned to employ spy techniques from La Femme.

Jenn was misunderstood by her stepmom, and her dad had become distant. During these times she was informally adopted into the Reese family where she saw passion for our Savior. They attended a church in Halsey, Oregon, population 700. It was a very small church that faithfully preached the Word. The elders of the church were intimately involved in the lives of all its members, and I could tell she was grateful to have their Word-based guidance over her life, filling the gap she longed for in those years. She loved this church with all her heart, and she wanted to share it with us. She talked many times about the stories of faith of its members that inspired her own. Mr. Reese, for example, decided to become a pig farmer in Alaska and his wife took faith in Christ and supported his choice. She would shake her head in wonder and say that that's the kind of wife she wanted to be.

Some of my favorite memories are of those when Jenn took me to her church or overnight to her house. Matter-of-factly she played the piano while letting me read the words to some of the first worship songs I learned, some I remember: "It Is Well With My Soul," "Lord I Lift Your Name on High." One year her church practiced a traditional passover seder and she really wanted me to come. On the way there she explained what a passover was.

There were many times when Julie's or Jenn's or my personal circumstances brought us to tears and frustration. Often we had to make choices between continuing unhealthy relationships or severing them. But the tears we cried were not tears of faithlessness. They were tears that said that life was hard but we knew God was in control. She showed me that she trusted God completely in spite of it all. When these things arose she'd say, "Let's get out of here," and the three of us went on drives in the night till we were in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road, and by the light of the dash we would talk about the Word.

Jenn has a special talent to be able to explain in detail the unique physical structure of any person she meets.

Jenn embodies all that is impetuous and romantic. She achieves the goals of her life with zeal in all matters, balanced with a passion for loving sacrifice. She prays like an apostle. And once when we were driving through Klamath Falls, Oregon and stopped into a random baptist church for services on our way back home, we looked in our cooler to see what was left to prepare for lunch. Raw chicken breasts were pretty much it. In true Jenn style she took the the chicken in-hand and approached an older man and asked him if we could borrow their kitchen for ten minutes to fry them up. I think the guy was a little overwhelmed by a tall beautiful blonde carrying raw meat to say no. That's our Jenn.

Living In Baltimore. Recently auditioned for American Idol, Philadelphia. She shares of the experience:

Well, as it tunrs out, its a pretty good sign if the judges ask you to
sing a second song--which my judge did! (yeah! :)) But, in the end, it
was, "You're not what American Idol is looking for, but you sing very
well. Keep singing. Try again next year." --NO THANKS! ;)

Here are some photos from her trip:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Exceptional Exceptions

Myself, Julie and Jenn at our house dance

Here are two people that don't classify as dumb or walkers, in my life. This month marks the ten year anniversary of our friendship. Though we are currently parted by distance, it is tested and true that when we come together again, our hearts are bound just as ever. We are close, and when I say close, I mean that I am sure that they are both all for me and I am all for them.

We celebrated our first Memorial Day weekend by camping at the Jedediah Smith State Park, next to the emerald-green Smith River flowing over rock. I'll never forget the place. Subsequent Memorial Days were spent in the Mt. St. Helen foothills, in Lincoln City at the beach, and in the desert climate of Sisters, Oregon.

Just as vividly I recall studies into the Word. I remember their greek & hebrew aids and concordances which they constantly took advantage of. I remember free-will Julie and calvinist Jenn taking very seriously but respectfully, the issue of predestination. At the time I had almost no idea what they were talking about, but it was never boring. We would often go to Shari's for late night dessert & classwork... and take our bibles. I quickly learned that any time together meant conversation upon loftier things. Just as predictably as life brings controversy, so it went that these two would open up the scriptures to see what God's will would be, and we would pray going in and out of it. It was through having them as my roommates for a year or two of life that I became accustomed myself to love for Him and His words. I was undoubtedly immature, compared to them. But I delighted in their good example and they in my willingness to learn.

We are kindred. Each of us had a strained or absent relationship with our father, and a rocky one with our mom. We clung to each other in those days.

Our birthdays are in January and exactly nine days apart, with Jenn's in the middle.

These two ladies are singlehandedly the reason, as much as is humanly possible, why I became a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Julie and Jenn, this one is for you. The video is a little odd, but the song is a perfect fit...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Notes from today's bible study

Does truth breed trust?

"In this world you will have trouble." We have expectations, but it's like a hand-shake with the air; God and I didn't really have an understanding that I wouldn't have these difficulties. Though I knew there was suffering, that's not the core of rebellion....

"But take heart, for I have overcome the world." Is He trustable?

Jesus is truth. Christ will never mislead. I wrote this down. Do I believe?

Only the truth sets us free. Denial though, is easier than extending trust.

A baptist teacher said "God is under-represented in the body of Christ. No teacher has it all together. We need not just truth but the whole truth, so that His children won't feel betrayed." Do I treat the collection of scriptures like I do K-Mart? I go through and select the ones I want. The next guy goes and selects something else. And then ensues misrepresentation and debate and, a lack of trust. We need the whole counsel. "Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Many times God says things that sound gracious and many times truthful. Somehow Jesus combined the two features when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. She ran to the people smiling, because her dignity had not been injured, though "He has told me everything I have ever done!"

I remember that quality of God when I first became a believer. I still want it. If I were close to Him again He could remove the toxins and poisons out of my love for the world around me.

Some say "God has nothing to do with anything we could ever interpret as negative or painful." Others say "God is always angry, never pleased, and usually out to get us." But He taught neither of these extremes.

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" -- Is this the trouble we receive in this life? What if someone has been abused or poorly handled... and habits of sin develop for the one on the receiving end? Whose fault is it? My sin is mine to answer for. And, if God said to me, "Child, you are sinning in these ways and I want you to face this," it would hurt. I don't want to admit it because it's part of who I am, and part of that is not my fault. But I guess He'll deal with the other guys. It's scary to wonder how He must be dealing with me when I have led others to sin.

If I was spiritually injured, am I going to let it finish me?

David wrote: "Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth." ps 31:5

It's so odd... that last night was when I noticed that I don't trust, and then, this morning it was the topic. It's so amazing that it happened like that, I thought I should document both events.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Today I almost quit"

I almost said this three Fridays ago, January 5th.

The measly three hours I spend volunteering at Birthright on Fridays has become increasingly difficult, and it shouldn't be. I started off with Liz rocking in a portable swing as an infant, and Grace a mobile 2-year old. And it seemed okay. I just worry so much now, about having Lijah and Lizzy with me. Maybe I'm just losing faith. What once seemed easy... is now too big to overcome? I try my best to pack snacks and bottles and bring movies and activities so that they will be pleasant. My greatest fear is that one of them will have a break-down while I'm trying to listen to a woman who is abortion-minded. Even if that never happened, every week there are moments when I literally break a sweat attending them and clients simultaenously. The women have stressful issues on their mind and when my children whine, it can't be good.

Adding pressure to all of this is my increasing awareness that there is something subtle but wrong with Liz. She is dealing with something that I can't understand; for awhile I thought it was recurring bladder infections or hypoglycemia, now I think it's hyperthyroidism. She just breaks down with no warning, and doesn't want to move at all till she eats. Or she'll have a two-day span where she wets her pants. And she is constantly overheated. And several other things that I won't discuss now.

Lijah is crawling, and giving up his AM nap. Traditionally, I have been nursing him to sleep and then putting him down in the supply closet on some quilts. Which was crazy stressful by itself. He's now become "mommy-in-the-room" fussy. It's a bad stage for hoping in a baby to be content. Call it the straw that broke the camel's back, three Friday's ago.... I love Birthright, but there comes a time when maybe I ought to think about what is best for others and not myself. I remember two conferences ago the national director said that volunteers should not bring their children with to the office, and this weighs on my mind, though Terry says it's okay. I do have to admit, so far, doing Fridays has always felt like walking into a little miracle. God always seems to keep the most impossible things that the children might do, for either right before or after the shift. I have seen this over and over. Somehow, God knows the need. Birthright is certainly covered in prayer by countless, countless people.

There are safety concerns with my children and I, the difficulty in finding a replacement volunteer for me in the case that I or one of three children get sick and can't make it, etc. I regularly don't sleep well on Thursday nights, in anticipation.

On January 5th I ended up alone without the usual second volunteer because of a glitch in scheduling. At a particular point I had two clients there; one getting a test and another in the clothing room. That's not a big deal. But the phone rang and it was a woman who spoke in Spanish.

I don't know a lick of Spanish. Everytime this happens I think that I need to get off my duff and learn it.

"One moment," I said. I fumbled around the desk for a printup another volunteer made for the rest of us. Found it. On one side it said the English version and the other side the Spanish. I quickly figured out which sentences were the right ones and then monotonely read a series of syllables which was supposed to say "I want to help you. I can't speak Spanish but I am going to ask a Spanish-speaking volunteer to call you back." She understood somehow! Then I asked her "number?" She began but... I couldn't understand.

Sigh; Dora the Explorer, you and your melodies of memorization failed me.

I broke our strict protocol of client confidentiality and pulled in the client from the clothing room and asked her with a smile, "I wonder if you speak any Spanish?" She took the phone from me and it was perfect; I got her name and number and then there was a very quick and passionate conversation between the two of them. I asked her after she hung up. "I can't believe this, but she was calling asking if you do abortions! She must be crazy! But I didn't say that, I just told her no, they want to help you, like, get resources and all the things you need for your children. I told her that you do tests and you don't do that here." Which was acceptable as far as I was hoping.

I called Carol, one of our standby Spanish volunteers. I told her what I knew. She called me back a few minutes later and said that she was very young, and she and her husband/significant other were illegal, as were their three children. She had no family in the area, and no friends. Her partner was not happy to find out that she was pregnant again. She can't afford being pregnant without insurance. He can't find work. Abortion seems like the only option. Carol asked her to think about the child she was carrying, but she couldn't do it with all of her other issues.

Carol was vexed. She wanted to know what we could do for her. I gave her a few ideas, but she needed more information. I invited her to come into the office and go through our list of resources to become acquainted with them for the next time, especially adoption. She did, and we went over them for an hour or so. Meanwhile Liz and Lijah were getting fussy, it was past one and Birthright was closed so I thankfully locked the front door. Carol eventually left saying she was really unsure about pressing her by calling a second time. She called later after we left but the woman didn't answer.

End of story, I thought. Usually these things never go anywhere; once a caller hears that we can help her with many things, it makes her resolve for abortion a little tougher to maintain and they avoid us.

Two weeks passed. It was January 18th and I thought it important that Carol felt Birthright's support, so I'd follow up with a courtesy call. She said she never called again because she sensed the woman wouldn't want that. I understood. Just as our conversation ended, she found the phone number and said aloud, "Maybe I will give her a call again."

An hour later an excited Carol called back. She called the woman and it rang and she left no message but she must have recognized Carol's ID and called her back, telling her that she hadn't aborted the baby. She wanted help, and accepted Carol's invitation. Most of all what she wanted was someone to be a friend. Carol said she would come over very soon to her home and visit her and her children. Then, in the spring when the weather warms, she would make dates to pick her and her three children up and take them to the park. Carol has a daughter who is the same age, mother of three children, and also speaks Spanish.

This was an extraordinarily wonderful outcome. It made me change my mind. I will keep on, for now, even if with worry and doubt, under the miracle that is Birthright.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Top Ten Picks

Music Favorites

1. Music by Madonna
2. Heaven n' Hell by Salt n' Pepa *
3. Chinese Burn by Curve
4. Consume Me by DC Talk
5. Vision of Love by Mariah Carey
6. The Power of Goodbye by Madonna #
7. Holy by Nichole Nordeman
8. Give In to Me by Michael Jackson
9. Cornerstone by Day of Fire
10. Gravity by Shawn McDonald

* Language
# This video is the only one a bit non-viewer friendly (it's Madonna after all)

The "event" of a decade

I got to pick what I did today because it was my birthday.

No cake. No ice cream. No fancy restaurant. I want to stay at home. I got a call last night from my brother-in-law who was wondering if we could watch the kids "Saturday night" so that he could take my sister out to a dinner and a movie. My parents haven't called... 'course I lost my cell phone a few weeks ago, so maybe they did. We went to church this morning as usual for Ben's upward basketball ministry, and as usual I spent the morning talking with my friend Becky and her husband Mike. Her parents came in for a surprise visit from Idaho and so at the end Becky asked if we would be up for a little babysitting so that they could go out to lunch and have a nice long talk. I looked at Ben, who said "It's your birthday, you do what you want!" :) On the heels I asked, "Can I watch the kids for my sister too?"

I think I have him overwhelmed. The tylenol bottle will be our significant ally.

A day of loving kids and cleaning the house? Sounds perfect. I did get "La Femme Nikita" Season Four, and a good reference book I wanted. So when things are in order I know I'll be breaking out one or the other.

I don't think it can get better than this. It is just as I want it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


"Therefore, get rid of... the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you...."

Tuesday night's bible study was over James' description of the man who looks at his face in a mirror. We talked at length about how he who only listens even has that stolen, if he doesn't also make effort. We lose the knowledge of what we are, because we have given up trying to grow.

The solution: Be humble to the original seed of truth, even though at times it's felt rather like a thorn. Give it a little respect.

Avoid the common and we will find God again.

That word "prevalent" just suits my understanding.

James 1:21

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Milestone

I'm about to be turning thirty.

I pretty much dealt with it when I turned 27 -- that was close enough.

Does it make any difference?

I see some negatives.... For instance about a year ago I got a single gray hair on my temple. Now I have five. So I guess from here on out I'll be regularly "taking care of that." That's okay, though; who doesn't like to get away from the kids for three hours every few months? I'll call that a perk of being a thirty-something.

And, some positives. I was walking through Safeway today and Fred Meyer yesterday and, over the intercom both times I heard Mariah Carey's "Can't Let Go." Don't think I've heard it in ten years. It took over me and I was having a moment right there in the store. A resurrection of the heart of a... twelve year old? Wow. I've been noticing for a few years that the shopper's soundtrack is filled up with the likes of Toni Braxton, Celine's early unknown stuff, Madonna -- my music. Now I am the generation that wields influence of buckage they most want.

Season Three of "La Femme Nikita" was a Christmas gift and while watching an episode I had to count how long it has been since I first saw it aired on tv. This time I counted nine. The series started six months after I graduated high school. And, as I was pregnant, newly married and reclining in a chair in our first home I remember holding a box of kleenex & watching the finale. I will probably always think of how old I am by counting years post-Nikita. Both she and I were thrown into harsh circumstances together at the same time since the very first episode. She was pulled right in off the streets with an ultimatum:

MADELINE: "They seem to think you have potential."
NIKITA: "Who's 'they'? Who are you?"
MADELINE: "I'm Madeline. 'They' are Section One. They own you now."
NIKITA: "Didn't know I was for sale."
MADELINE: "Please; sit down. If you want to live, it has to be on their terms. So, please, do sit down. ... Look at yourself. Admire yourself. See your beauty? You can learn to shoot. You can learn to fight. But there's no weapon as powerful as your femininity. ... We're family, now, Nikita."

I'm thankful for the years of comfort that have passed between me and that stage in my life. I have three beautiful children and a kind husband. I have so much to be thankful for and I am thankful for them. They have made me fulfilled. I guess that makes me one of the lucky ones.

I am afraid to grow old. But as long as I keep following after the places Grace leads me, I know my essence is preserved.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Was that just pathetic magic?

Cole asks Dr. Malcolm:

[pushing the penny back across the desk]
"How can you help me if you don't believe me?"

From the movie 'The Sixth Sense'

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What is the Nature of Disagreement?

They would say, "If you don't agree with the scriptures that this is true, then you have turned from God." Do you believe in this principle?

If it weren't for the fact that most of the people in my life are those who struggle to get their Christianity off the ground, I wouldn't have seen for myself how much obedience to the scriptures is just not all that easy sometimes, not practical, not really an option for the way some people are built. And then I would not have seen that same quality, in myself.

Both during my "conference" and now I find myself appealing to the parable of the four soils:

[I paraphrase]The Word falls along the path and is swallowed up, along the shallow soils and quickly withers, among the weeds and is choked, or in deep soil which bears fruit after more fruit.

I tried with moderate success to ask them many times to answer for themselves individually: don't you also have areas of your heart where the Word of God is saying something that for now you can't hear, can't maintain, can't choose by the will, and can't incorporate fully? Everybody has areas where they hear what is right but can't want it because it's too hard, or the transformation is at least, for now, too far off in the distance.

We can't judge someone for specific problems. Because apart from Jesus we can do nothing; obedience comes from God and sometimes He lets it be awhile before we start getting it right.

What if she's saying "I can't do it. I can't do it, God. It doesn't make any sense, it doesn't work with who I am at this point." She is a sinner who wants God but can't be righteous enough on her own to qualify naturally. In this case, what she needs, is grace. The kind of grace that Jesus exhibited to the sinners and tax collectors -- those who knew they couldn't obey and beat their chest in agony and bitterness for acceptance.

On the other hand, it is definitely true that people reject the common interpretation of scripture because they find it constricting, too constricting, for their desires. They resent a higher authority of correction and rebuke. What if this is the real issue behind a choice to ignore the scriptures? In this case, liberalism is far from being the answer.

I need to be careful here to pray and think both in her shoes and without, to know for myself how I should handle her.

How concretely different is disobedience from admitting failure and inadequacy? After all, if you can't do what is commanded, don't you also desire, at least partially, to do that which you are accustomed to?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


This week I have been taking several online spiritual gift tests. I want to know more about what it is that I can do and what it is that I cannot.

At ChristiaNet these were my results, mid-week:

[Score, Spiritual Gifts, Scripture Reference]

100% Wisdom James 3:13-17
100% Teacher Hebrews 5:12-14
100% Prophet 1 Corinthians 14:3

I did it again today and came up with:

100% Teacher Hebrews 5:12-14
100% Mercy Luke 10:30-37
100% Evangelist Acts 8:26-40

Here are the definitions for these gifts:

Teacher: This gift enables particular Christians to communicate the truths of God's Word in a manner that others can learn and apply those truths to their own life.

Wisdom: This gift endows particular Christians with an understanding of God's will and work as it relates to the living of life. This allows them to be used in providing divine direction for themselves and others.

Prophet: This gift empowers certain Christians to interpret and apply God's revelation in a given situation.

Mercy: This gift enables certain Christians to feel exceptional empathy and compassion for those who are suffering so that they devote large amounts of time and energy to alleviate that suffering.

Evangelist: This gift enables particular Christians to share the Gospel to unbelievers in such a way that the unbeliever becomes a disciple of the Lord Jesus.

What is defined as "Teacher" and what is defined as "Prophet" are nearly identical, at first look. Though from what I understand, the gift of prophecy is to offer the right principles to the right person at the right time. And teaching is the ability to work with others toward greater understanding of right principles.

I'm not sure how much of a teacher I really am. Maybe I keep scoring high on that because I am overwhelmingly conscious that prophets don't often help others grasp what's being said, and oftentimes are a pain in everyone's side? But, if I am burdened for it, it must be something essential to who I am and what I do. I don't really know how to take these tests.

Here's what I'd like to ask: Can gifts be under-utilized? What if I don't like my gift of prophecy? I'm so tired of hurting others. I really want to be more normal, less aware. Perhaps for the last several years I have instead been throwing all my effort into exercizing mercy, to counterbalance. I think this has made me more happy as a Christian. The results showed that I scored almost as high in Faith, Intercession, Service, Writing, and Hospitality in that order.

I do know this: teachers don't always have to be speaking. There is a way to teach that is less direct or even, silent. And what's more, what I want to impart to others has definitely changed through time. Perhaps that's what a teacher is: mercy and prophecy working in tandem.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"The kind of person I wanna be"

This may sound odd to some readers, but one of my most favorite movies is... "Dirty Dancing" starring Jennifer Gray and Swaze. I watched it every day for a whole summer when I was ten years old, and it left an imprint on who I wanted to become in life. Yes, it's probably not one of the best movies for a ten year old girl to watch, but, you have to understand that I grew up in an unchurched family. Remember that the world's standards, given with a few obvious restraints, are the standards by which things are considered normal.

I had a kinship with the girl who, like me, had her life charted out in academic accomplishment before her and, she was handed a philosophy of restraining help just to those who were in the same class as she. She abandoned those limiting rules because she saw real, human need. Even at ten I could understand this underlying point behind what happened to her in the movie.

This clip is of the last dance, and my favorite parts are not the typical romantic stuff. It's the little speech he gives at the very beginning and then, in the middle, how he goes to bring up his friends from the back of the auditorium to join in the performance. He had been practicing with them all year but wasn't allowed to perform it, and by bringing them up to the front, he made a statement of their worth and added to the overall effect, of course.

Oh, I forgot to add that it also taught me something else that became distinctly a part of who I am: how to dance. It's all couple dancing in this movie but by listening and watching it became very simple to see that dancing means just listening to the music to know how to move. It was a breakthrough to making it an art.

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