#1 Song

What was the #1 song on the date of your birth?

Hmmm, look what mine was, coincidence? As yet to be determined...



Repeat I know

We had small group tonight, and while I'm to tired and still processing I just wanted to say again, how much I love the people that I get to hang out with because of my church. I mean, I know that's not the only reason we're friends, but it's how I met them and what connected us in the first place.
So great, such a great night, great conversation and affirmation.

Ahhh kitties

I just heard my cats fighting in the living room, for like a ridiculously long time. So I get up to see what's happening, I flip the light on, and see them calmly standing next to each other as if nothing happened. Figures. Then I walked over and took a closer look, and saw a little clump of Gertrude's black hair hanging out of Agnes' mouth!
Agnes then looked up at me with this pathetic sad look and meowed. Which may have worked if I hadn't seen the aforementioned tuft of black hair fall out of her teeth and float to the floor.


I saw the sign, and loved my church a little more

I was on my way home from church today and I passed another church. It was a traditional church building with a sign by the road. I love reading church signs. Sometimes I find irony, sometimes I find the truth, sometimes I find a lie, often I find encouragement.
I think I found a little bit of all of those in this one sign today. The sign read:
Come join us and worship God
Are you ready for the judgment?
Now, the sign read exactly like that. One sentence on each line. I know that they were referring to two different things. The first sentence was a genuine invitation, and the second was most likely a question asking if we were ready to come before the throne of God and be judged. But that's not how it reads is it? Not to mention, if you're completely God illiterate you might not understand that God will judge us all one day.
It read to me, for a moment, that if you come and worship God you will be judged by the congregation.
Come and worship God with us, if you're thin enough, if you have the right clothes, if you act like us, if you smell like us, if you turn your nose up at the same things as us. Come and worship God if you have the right systematic theology, if you're straight enough, if you are able to tithe more then the standard 10% (and don't even consider giving one penny less the 10% pre-tax to us). If you're single, come and worship God with us so we can marry you off and get you some kids, because that's really the path to righteousness (especially if you're a woman). But you better be celibate. You better not have even thought about having sex before marriage...because sexual sin is the sum of all your parts and we don't want any of that complicated temptation in this building...what if you hang out with kids! While we're at it, we better not even acknowledge anything about sex, or masturbation, or pornography...because that would be like inviting that sin into our lives. Come and worship God with us, we're super cool and set apart from the world and you can be too! Come and worship God with us. If you do, then you won't have to talk to anyone that isn't like you anymore, and if you do, well then you can tell them why their going to hell and why God is mad at them. Come and worship God with us!

Ok. Seriously, that actually went through my head as I drove past this church sign. I do get that I was judging them. I see the hypocrisy in that. I'm working on it alright...
But on the flip side, it made me love my church a little more. I go to, and get to take part in a church that is filled with awesome people that are messy, irrational, moody, cool, funny, hip, uncomfortable and for the most part filled with this love for a God that loves them back, for a God that loves them so much he sent his Son to be crucified and atone for the sins of us all. I go to a church where people talk about God realistically. They sometimes use platitudes, but more often then not they talk about God in the midst of the mess of their life, in the midst of their struggles. They talk about a Holy God, a God that is GOOD even though He doesn't fit into the definition of what we want good to be. I love these people that make up my church.
I love the woman that came straight from chemo to make cotton candy at Sports Camp, I love that I can confess things to another woman and she not only listens but is compassionate and doesn't declare me the nicest of the damned because of my struggles. I love that when Ben was talking about the fall last week Ben acknowledged that many a dirty joke could be made about the naked part of that story.
I just love that I get to do life with these people. I love hanging out with them.
I love that I can bring friends to church that hate church, that have been so deeply wounded by church. I love that it is not only acceptable that I am friends with people who don't believe in God, or are supremely pissed at him, but that those relationships are encouraged.
My church will let you belong before asking you to believe or behave. I know there are tons of other churches out there like mine. But I love mine the most.


I realized tonight

That I am complaining to much.
Yes, I'm busy, yes I'm tired, but honestly I am complaining a lot about it.
Is it because that I want to serve people, but I want them to know and acknowledge that I'm serving them? Then what's the point if it's not that?
I feel a little self-centered.
I feel a little selfish and all wrapped up in the flurry of my life.
Now before Pete starts a comment, email, and im flurry about how I'm not selfish let me say, that I just am.
We all are.
We're selfish with our time, with our love, with our information, with out hearts, with our money.
We're selfish.
This isn't always bad, but it's not always good.
I'm selfish with my thoughts. I'm lazy.
I long to pull away more, for intentional meditation and prayer time, reading the bible time. But not in deeds. In deeds I flit about from task to task losing that fire, that desire. I find myself so frightened of spiritual atrophy. Not because of people that force me to do do do (heh do do), not because of commitments I make without thinking. I'm afraid that my inherent laziness, my desire to literally do nothing, ever, will slowly pick away at the desire to seek these things.

I'm not selfish because I don't focus enough on people, on serving, on friends or family. I'm selfish because I withhold myself, my time, my prayers, thoughts and words from God.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25


She's pregnant!
I can't believe she's pregnant!
:running around so totally stoked that I can't really focus on the rest of the conversation:

Yep, that's what happened in my head when she told me. When she told me so casually as if it wasn't the answer to so many hours of prayer. When she told me under the guise of explaining why she wasn't up for Skip-Bo for awhile anyway...so it was ok that I was busy.
I rejoiced in the greatness of our mutual God. I rejoice still.

I didn't want to be so awkwardly stoked because there are circumstances I can't speak about that are touchy. There are things that have happened that make this a holding your breath type of pregnancy. But....

She's pregnant, I can't believe she's pregnant. She's soooo totally pregnant!


The next time

The next time I get cranky, tired, snippy, and just all around nasty and bitchy I'm going think about Amy.
Amy who has ovarian cancer and had chemo today. Amy who called me back from the chemo chair and said, of course, she would still be at Sports Camp tonight and she would have her cotton candy machine. Amy who told me how good God is while washing dried pink cotton candy off of her arms. Amy who a few months ago had chemo and then went to our friend Bill's baptism.
Amy who has had her moments, a lot of them sometimes. Amy who has contemplated the "new normal" that she is walking towards. Amy who told her doctors her chemo better be done by this fall so she can go to Ghana.
Amy who is a prayer warrior , Amy who is kind and wickedly funny.

So the next time I think it's to hard, to much, to overwhelming, I'm going to think about Amy.


I heard a rumor today

That I brought a date to church on Sunday....
So Ben tells me at life group tonight that they were talking about an intern going on a date with someone he met at church. Ben said that someone then mentioned that I had a *gasp* MAN at church with me on Sunday.
Gee Pete, apparently everywhere we go we get salacious rumors started about our relationship status.
Now Ben knows Pete is just a friend, and told the staff not to put the horse before the cart in this case.

After Ben tells me this story I tell him one that probably hasn't helped the small (because really it was like a 1 minute conversation, but this will help illustrate how my life as a Seinfeld episode) rumor. Pete and I were going to be bringing 100 bibles to church. I had emailed Ryan several times asking him if he needed the bibles 1st service (so we could drop them off Saturday) or if we could just bring them 2nd. I never heard from him, so I assumed 2nd service was fine (because I was sleeping in dang it!)
Well he sent me a text about 8am asking if I could bring them to first service, he had just seen my email. As I was dragging myself out of bed I typed the reply:
"Sure. We just got up, we'll be there as soon as we can"

We. As in Pete and I. As in the MAN I brought with me to church. As in the inference is that we just woke up together.

Now for those of you that are curious Pete was nice and comfy on the air mattress in the living room, I was getting un-snuggled from my bed in my bedroom, and we were both totally clothed.
I'm just saying, I wonder if those two pieces were put together when I walked in with a man. If so, how hilariously awkward!

Whisper of God to me

I laid on a bench at Winton Woods Sunday and stared at some trees. I stared up at a scene a lot like the photo above and I just inhaled and exhaled.
Occasionally I would talk to Tony or Pete that were there with me, but mostly it was:
well you get the point

I became almost mesmerized by the trees just moving back and forth. It reminded me of a testimony I heard at Cedar Creek several years ago. This man told of his journey to a relationship with Jesus and he was adamantly opposed to it for the longest time. He kept asking for proof, proof that Jesus was real, proof that the Holy Spirit was still working today. Every piece of "evidence" that people gave him he said, that's not proof, that's not Jesus, that's just a symptom of believing in him. It's an effect of your delusional belief.
One day he was talking to a friend and was explaining away all of the "evidence" of Jesus is his friends life. Frustrated, his friend said do you believe in wind? Of course replied this man, you can see wind...see just look at those trees and the ripples on the water, there's your proof. His friend replied, that's not wind. That's a cause of wind, some could argue it's only evidence of his delusional belief in wind.
Now this guy didn't fall down on his knees and begin to follow Jesus that day, but that was a turning point. A realization that there are so many things that we believe that we can't see, touch, taste, and smell. But believe in them we do.

So I lay there, on a bench lost in this moment of appreciation for breezes, for trees, for friends like Tony and Pete, for my church family and my family and other friends. I was just so thankful for all of it.
For about 5 minutes.
Then I got all twitchy and nervous, high strung if you will. My mind switched from thankfulness mode to holy crap I have so much to do mode. I started to vibrate with anxiety of to do lists and obligations, and the moment was lost.
So I hustled along Tony and Pete and we piled into Tony's Jeep and headed back to my house. All the way home, I just kept thinking...I wish we would have stayed. I wish I knew how to go with the flow more. I wish I was more like that tree...
I know the importance of being rooted, of having a stable foundation of beliefs, faith, etc. But I know that within that stability (the trunk of the tree) I have to learn to be more flexible. I have to incorporate more of the branches into my life....just swaying and moving naturally.

I know there will be periods that I'm over scheduled, I know there will be periods that I'm running all the time. But I cannot continue to exist on this strict schedule. I almost ran out of gas today because I didn't schedule time in to go to the gas station. I mean DUH.
Sometimes I feel like I can't say no to people unless I have other plans in place. Like I will somehow wound them if I just don't want to.
I need to become more disciplined in relaxing....oxymoron much?
I seriously struggle with withdrawing and relaxing, or meditating, or lately, even prioritizing my time alone with God, with his word, and in silence just existing with Him.
I miss him a lot. I know he's still there. I hear him through the screeching of my life this month. I hear him calling me to be still and quiet.

Somehow, my life has gotten loud again, even without the TV on.
I need to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the breeze, it is what most often carries the whisper of God to me.


Dear Mr. Donato's Pizza Driver:

Dear Mr. Donato's Pizza Delivery Man:

I'm sorry that your car broke down on the side of the Norwood Lateral Friday. I'm sorry that all that smoke was pouring out of your hood. I know that life as a delivery driver is rough on your car, and I hope that your car is replaced or fixed so that you are on your way to the next delivery address expediently.
But I have to say, I'm most sorry for the pizza purchasing person on the other end of your journey last Friday. I only hope that when they called to complain about the time it was taking for the pizza delivery they showed restraint in their verbal tirade, because after all...it is just pizza.
So Mr Donato's Pizza Delivery Man, I hope that the rest of your Friday, after you were finally rescued off of the side of the Norwood Lateral was vastly improved from the time I saw you there.


The always concerned, but only occasional Donato's pizza consumer

How to summarize?

So here's a bullet point of my last week:

  • heinous- I had some HIGH HIGH maintenance customers and they kicked my ass up and down. I mean it just stunk.
  • exhausting- I wrapped up a two week straight stint of dog sitting at two different families house. I was cranky, I missed my bed, my kitties, my own routine. I was in a foul foul mood.
  • stoked!- The week ended on a spectacular note because Pete came to visit! I still had stuff to do, but it was so much more fun doing them with Pete. "Jeeves! Bring me my slippers!" "Uh, my name is Steve..." "Jeeves I don't pay you to talk back!"
  • busy- I've been dog sitting, doing Sports Camp prep, dog sitting, bridal shower stuff and inhaling and exhaling. Saturday Pete and I ran errands all morning, ferrying stuff up and down the stairs and sweating our tushes off
  • messy- apparently two weeks away from my apartment doesn't equal a clean house...boo!
  • FUN!- Pete and I hung out with Tony and his girlfriend, I ate a gyro for the first time and really liked it. Then we went back to Sarah's for some YAHTZEE (turns out I'm good at Yahtzee, who knew?) and suds. Pete and I also played an exorbitant amount of original NES Super Mario Bros., we created several new inside jokes (as if we needed more, "We'll be his period!") and discussed how I can not be so stressed. Oh! We also went on a picnic with Tony Sunday. It was lovely and beautiful and I laid on a bench and watched a tree!
  • Frightening- Driving around looking at houses today I was forced to tell Pete all the ways killers could hide and attack me because of various cosmetic issues with a house...maybe that means I'm crazy, maybe that means I'm paranoid...who knows
  • Exhilarating- I think I found a house! I mean I think I found a house! I'm going to see the inside Saturday morning, but Pete and I skulked around the house and peeked in the windows. It's unoccupied so that's not as creepy as it sounds
Now I'm heading into Sports Camp week and hopefully the week I fall in love with the inside of a house...
And you said I couldn't commit :)


Dear Mr Green Topaz driver

Dear Mr Green Topaz Driver,

Because you're not aware of it I wanted to let you know something. Your windows are not tinted. They are clear and completely see through. Therefore, I was perfectly capable of seeing you digging voraciously in your nose on 71 north this afternoon.
My question however is, what on earth was it that you dug out of your nose and why was is so fascinating?


The curious and concerned silver Camry driver.


When hauling a mattress always use at least 2 bungee cords

On my way down to Erlanger for the Hauck cookout last night I saw a minivan driving with a queen size mattress strap with only one bungee cord to it's top. I could see about an inch of clearance between the roof and the mattress as it bounced down the road and as I was passing it the front flipped up a little higher then I was comfortable with.


My bow isn't pink, it's not even tied

I'm reading this book called My Beautiful Idol by Pete Gall. Daryl recommended it to me, turns out he has only read like 5 pages....good think it's an excellent book.
One of the earliest chapters has me thinking about how we rank prayer requests, sin, and our struggles and concerns. How deep is deep enough, how superficial does the issue have to be for it to be a frivolous request? It seems they're ranked somehow and I can't figure out how. Pete had a conversation with his roommate Stephen who is a worship leader at a Colorado church, and he is gay.
For example (from Pete Gall):
This morning I stood in a circle holding hands with the other people from the praise band, doing prayer requests. The pastor's wife asked for prayer for her kids. She said they have such rebellious spirits. The kids are two and three years old!
I'm not making this up! Being the pastor's wife, she's pretty guarded, I'll admit. But the next person asked for prayer about the minivan he and his wife are thinking about buying. He said they wanted to honor God with their choice...Honor God with a minivan choice? Come on! Is this really the pressing issue in his life- the one that's so overwhelming he needs to call in prayer reinforcements?

Pete replies that Stephen shouldn't be so quick to critique other's prayers to closely, to which Stephen replied:

Would you have shared your prayer requests with them? Would have risked talking about not being sure about what you're doing with your life?

Pete replies that he's not sure but probably, he asks Stephen why not...

Here's my prayer request: I went to counseling Friday after work and prayed for freedom from my sins there. Again. For like the millionth time. I cried myself to sleep that night, half-drunk. I took a walk with Corey yesterday and told him that I couldn't see him anymore because I believed that what we're doing is wrong. Which means that I must think he was wrong when he made the choice to leave his wife and kids, and so is the hope he's had for his future with me. I came home, got drunk, and spent the evening alone with my stash of porn, feeling like I'm the only person in the world still fighting this batter- everyone in the gay community thinks it's leftover garbage from a repressed society of mutilators. The closest I came to telling anyone at church about it was when someone noticed I was chewing a piece of gum0 which you're not supposed to do on stage, but I was chewing it to cover up my alcohol breath- and she asked if I had an extra piece and winked at our shared wickedness when I gave her one. What do they teach you in seminary about sharing my kind of prayer request? Would you share that one? I'd be kicked off the praise team immediately because my sin disqualifies me from worshiping God. Rebellious toddlers and minivan selection- those things are good to take to God and are clean enough to keep a microphone in your hand- but I'd lose the one thread of connection I still feel to this deaf God who won't answer my prayers! My gay issues may not be my definition, and they may not be the bottom of my sin, but you can go to hell if you think I want to go deeper, or if you think it's something that I can carry with me into church, as a matter of fact. I know what it would cost me. Look at what it already costs me!

Wow. What do you do with that? How can you tell someone that it's ok to bring those struggles that are so raw to a body of believers when their experience and the experience of so many tells them it's not? I don't even want this to be about a gay issue per se. I mean in general, the messiness, the porn, promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, adultery, masturbation, self loathing, disbelief and serious serious doubts that God is even real anymore. How do you tell people that it's ok to bring that to a believer and that they won't get some pat answer about how all things are possible through the God that strengthens them. I mean, that scripture is true, but sometimes to people that are drowning in the reality of their life, of their sin, of their struggle they are just words. Jesus, while very very real, is not a physical body to cling to in the middle of the night when it seems impossible to even inhale one more time.
Life is messy, it's ugly, it's downright gross sometimes. How can I as a believer shine any light if I'm not willing to get my shoes dirty, my clothing torn, my hair messed up? How can you?
Not everything is fine. Everything doesn't always work out for the good. People die, they cheat, they murder, they lie. Is that a reason to never reach out to anyone ever again?

I used to think yes. But the conversations of late that I've had tell me, in all their brokenness, in all their damaged darkness, that the answer is really no. I mess up all the time. I suck a life sometimes. But in all of my flaws, in all of my shortcomings, I'm sometimes the only Jesus a person can see, and that makes getting down in the muck and hearing what is true all the more worth it.
We all know that our lives, that our struggles and relationships are not all in neat, pretty boxes and tied up with a pink bow. Why then do we keep expecting others to be the that way?

I'm sorry if I missed your call

I've been having this dream lately. Not every night, not even every week. But I had it last night.

I'll be asleep, minding my own business and I will hear my name. I'll just hear a voice beckoning.

Bethany... Bethany... Bethany...
It starts as a whisper, and occasionally it will stay that way. Occasionally it will grow louder and louder until a bellowing voice is shouting my name.

I'll awake, with a start, and frantically look for the light switch and look all around the room. It really freaks me out.
I can't decide if I"m freaked out because I'm scared, or because I'm curious as to who it is that I'm being called by. Some nights it's a demanding call, some nights it's reassuring and soothing, some nights it's terrifying and I have a hard time going back to sleep for the restlessness it causes in my head.

What does it all mean? Do I even have to know what it means in order to move? Move forward, backwards, or sideways is beside the point I suppose.

Some would say that it's just my neurons firing before I settle into REM sleep. Others would say, and have said, that it's the call of God on my life (would that be the Spirit...hmm I don't know the logistics of all that), still others say it's just the sounds of the house, or the world settling and I hear that and misinterpret it as my name...since we're all so egocentric and all.
I don't really know what I would call it.

I had the dream last night, in a new house (I'm dog sitting), in a new environment. I heard the call and it was a beckoning call. Some of you would say it's the brew I imbibed last night, but I've had the dream sober and after drinking. I awoke this morning subdued, lonely, and curious about what it is exactly the dream means.


Leadership and Serving

Shouldn't, if you are leading a ministry in a church, you be tying everything back to Jesus? At the very least, even if you are all confused and turned around about why you serve, why you should serve and what the purpose of serving is, at the very least shouldn't that begin with the absolutely irrational call and love of Christ?

If it's not, then serve. Serve faithfully and happily. But maybe leading isn't for you.