Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Daughter Days

Since so many of my posts of late have been of a more serious nature, I thought I'd take a divergent road and have a little fun. Here is just one of the days I treasure on my road less traveled....

After looking over this post I'm pretty sure you'll feel just like I do. I can't think of a better way to spend a summer day, than with these two beautiful girls.

Today was one of the record setting heat days we have been experiencing in the Northwest. My two oldest kids are working their first summer job on a nearby orchard. My oldest daughter had today off, so we thought up some things to do that involved my camera and getting out of the house, but not into the heat.

A new little eclectic shop opened up in our town of Wenatchee. I love all things eclectic and thought it was time the girls and I checked out The Hippie Vintage Shop.

My girls were originally not quite on board with my new discovery. Hailey, my oldest was pretty sure this was not going to be fun. Her 15 year old feet are way too firmly planted in the ground! Brooke however, embraced the opportunity and threw caution to the wind.
The little unique boutique sports all things "hippie." They specialize in vintage clothing from the 60's and 70's, but you can also find jewelry, sunglasses, scarves, LP records and a variety of decorations.

Emma, the owner of the Hippie Vintage shop, took some time to help us try on some new looks.
My twelve year old daughter, Brooke, enjoys a blast from the past.
In the end even Hailey came around.

My favorite Hippie Vintage Shop picture!

Okay - I couldn't let the girls have all the fun, could I? Thanks Emma, for sharing your fun shop with us!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Justice on Display

"But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble, and those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee." Psalm 9:7-10

What a promise. The promise that the judge, the true judge of all creation, not an impostor in black robes, will be a safe place of protection to His people. He promises to display justice - not a warped, marginalized injustice that ignores the oppressed, but a true justice that restores what has been taken.

We dwell in a land that is compromised every day by injustice. We are told justice is blind, which is the real truth - justice is indeed blind. We are a litigious society. We look on our neighbor with covetousness and convince ourselves that we deserve what we have not earned. Our justice makes it easy to take people to court to extract their wealth from them, because, after all, this is America, and we can. We are civilized.

My family knows first hand the experience of the American justice system. As I write this post my husband and father in law are in the middle of defending themselves from a couple who climbs the social ladder by repeatedly suing those who are unfortunate enough to come in contact with them.

Even if a verdict is won against someone so litigious, there are still attorney fees incurred for representation. Often times, the ones bringing suit pay nothing unless a verdict is reached in their favor; providing all the protection for the ones bringing suit, and nothing for those who must defend their name and livelihood against false claims.

It is here, in this place where fear and faith mingle, that I find myself at the throne of the Judge of all. The one who is my judge and savior has displayed His sovereignty over all the events in our lives, both the broad events and the details alike. I come into His presence aware that no detail has been overlooked by Him. Nothing is incidental when it comes to His own. I know that no experience here is wasted. It is in this knowledge and with this promise that I can move into the future with boldness, accepting what is rendered because I have put my trust where it can never be forsaken. My prayer is that the Lord, My Judge, would use this trial to display His strong hand to save, revealing His love and power in our lives, both to us and to all who are praying with us.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I am obsessive about thank-you notes.
At least I used to be.

A few birthdays back I vividly recall receiving a particular gift of great personal significance.

As a lover of books, this gift was the book I longed for. Read by my closest friends, I had been forced to sit as a mere observer, a non-participant, as they gushed on and on about the wisdom, beauty and symbolism in this story wholly unfamiliar to me. It is a terrible thing to find yourself sequestered at a table with dear friends who are all feasting on a shared book experience while you sit alone in a group, eating your salad. While discussing key points in the book, my friends would occasionally cast furtive glances in my direction, much like visitors from America do when they are struck by extreme poverty in third world countries.

While opening my gifts at home I came across a gift bag. I removed the contents and discovered the coveted tome. I looked forward to breaking open the cover and inhaling the fragrance of fresh print while turning the crisp, unread pages. I was prepared to be changed.

However, I was unable to begin my book immediately, so I placed it down until I could set aside some time to sit in my favorite chair and ingest my new read.

When I finally was able to have an hour or so to myself I went to retrieve my book. I searched all of my "book" spots but was unable to locate it in any of the places normally alloted for a favorite book. Worse yet, I couldn't remember who blessed me with such a gift.

I began to worry that something evil was at work here.

I am responsible, so I sat down to write my thank you note to the person I believed gave me the gift and secretly hoped they would not ask how I was enjoying it.

Several weeks passed and I was still unable to locate my book. The funny thing was, I couldn't find the bag or the wrapping that my gift came in either and upon questioning my family I discovered that they had no memory of the book.

After receiving my thank you note, my friend apologetically said she was not the giver of the wondrous gift. She even called several of our mutual friends to see if it came from one of them. No one claimed it.

There was only one explanation.

My excitement about potentially receiving this book and the time spent hearing about the story had occupied so much of my existence it had become embedded in my subconscious.

I had dreamed the whole thing.

Worse than that, I actually wrote a thank you note to someone who didn't get me the gift that I never received.

Not a Domesticated God

"Our central lie is in the discrepancy between the language of worship and the actions of worship. We confess "Jesus is Lord" (Romans 10:9) but only submit to the part of Christ's authority that fits our grand personal designs, doesn't cause pain, doesn't disrupt the American dream, doesn't draw us across ethnic or racial divisions, doesn't add the pressure of too much guilt, doesn't mean forgiving as we have been forgiven, doesn't ask for more than a check to show compassion. We "sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19) expressing our desire to know Jesus, but the Jesus we want to know is the sanitized Jesus that looks a lot like us when we think we are at our best. "

Words that sting; not because they are untrue - but precisely because they are too true. This is the essence of Mark Labberton's book, The Dangerous Act of Worship. I came across this book and was struck by the title. What does dangerous worship look like? After carefully reading a few pages to make sure I wasn't purchasing a book that would have me handling snakes or some other theologically questionable activity, I discovered a gem that was certain to challenge me to reconsider the purpose, practice and influence (or lack) of worship.

We worship because we were created to worship. God alone is worthy of our worship and when we worship we reflect the glory of God. Worship is not narrowly defined by our choice of music on Sunday or our liturgical service, but is our life blood, the embodiment of what we believe about the God we serve. Through worship we unequivocally declare what God's power has accomplished. My heart echoed the words of the author, "worship is the one activity that sums up the scope of our lives and fundamentally alters the context in which we live." Amen!

The real question for me is not "what is worship?" but rather, why is the church (God's people) not reflective of worship that truly alters the context of our lives?

Mark Labberton challenges readers to reconsider our dwelling place- are we dwelling in Exodus or in exile? An interesting question that I never quite considered in that way before reading his book. Where we dwell - or at least our perception- carries with it all sorts of markers. Are we just biding our time, passin' through, or are we actively seeking the welfare of the city? I am fortunate to be able to hear my pastor's voice here - he is a faithful minister of the gospel to his sheep and so much of this book echoes his sermons.

Safe worship keeps us from becoming a peculiar people. It keeps us from ministering to those in need. The truly marvelous and mysterious is the realization that our greatest danger is our greatest need - "encountering the living God and responding with our lives." For no one who ever encountered the Living God was left unchanged.

One of my favorite quotes in the book comes from Annie Dillard:

"On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, making up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' hats and straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return."

I appreciated this book so much and would heartily recommend it to my fellow travelers.