Sunday, January 29, 2006

Omer of Manna

While I was in the hospital in November and December, many many packages arrived from Japan containing most of my earthly belongings. I have avoided opening them for the longest time because I just don't want to think about all that situation. But yesterday I broke down and opened a box. It was a wonderful box, too; just like Christmas. It had a bunch of decorations from my walls, my jewelry box, a photo album, and some books.

Among the books was a notebook that I started when I was in college. It's one of those black and white, marblized composition books. I think I got the idea from reading "Passion and Purity" by Elisabeth Elliot, in which she describes keeping a journal of quotes and scriptures and songs that encourage her. She named hers her "Omer of manna," taken from Exodus 16:32, "Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread with which I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt." When I began writing in my journal I was going through a rough time and wanted to record the words that gave me peace and encouragement. And I think it's one of the best things I've ever done. So many times I have looked back on those entries and they've helped remind me of the truth that can be easy to forget when times are tough. It's also nice to look back and reflect on where I've been and what God's brought me through.

The reason I share all this is that I encourage everyone to try this for a while. It's not something you have to update daily, but when a scripture, song, quote, poem, whatever it may be really speaks to you, jot in down in your journal. You never know when it will come in handy again in your own life or maybe the life of a friend.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ann's Quizlette

Please someone take it. I don't want to be a loser. :)

Blog readers should be at an advantage on this quiz!


Two notes from the creator of said quiz.

First, I made a mistake. It's on the question where I asked which movie I'd choose. If you make the question negative, "which movie would I not choose", then it'll work. Otherwise don't worry about it. :)

Secondly, I actually made the quiz twice, losing the first version which one question from being done. The second time around I forgot to include my favorite question. It was the following:

"Which of the following do I believe is a 'man job.'"
a. taking out the trash
b. driving
c. putting up the groceries
d. all of the above

The answer is D. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How I'm doing and how I'm feeling

During one of my college classes, a social rights advocate of the '70s came to speak to our class on racism today. One of my classmates asked him "What do you feel about..." and he answered, "Do you want to know what I think or how I feel?"

The most popular questions I get these days are "How are you doing/how are you feeling?" I answer them the same, because I know people mean the same thing in wording it both ways. I am doing great, praise be to God, although I don't know how God works in all of this. I have gained 20 pounds in two weeks (wow!) and I have great strength and endurance. I went to Target for an hour and a half last Saturday, without a wheelchair. I'm able to eat anything I want and I haven't gotten sick in several weeks. Incredible, considering where I was a month ago.

Yesterday I had checkups with the stomach doctor and surgeon in Oklahoma City. They were both very pleased with my progress. The surgeon dismissed me and the stomach doctor will see me again in March. And I've been instructed to stop my nightly tube feedings after I gain another ten pounds. Great news.

I am feeling alright. I've been through some major trauma over the last 7/8 months, and that's taken it's toll. Of course I'm happy to be doing better. Honestly as I write this I don't know what to say. A lot of how I feel is too private to put on a blog for the world to see, ya know?

So there's your update, since I've gone a while without telling you how I'm doing. Thank you 70 x 7 for your love and encouragement. It carried me. Sunday at church we sang "Faithful Love", and the second verse reminded me of my friends:

Faithful love, calms each fear
Reaches down,
dries each tear,
Holds my hand when I can’t stand on my own.

Faithful Love
From Above
Came to earth to show the father’s love.
And I’ll never be the same,
For I’ve seen faithful love face to face,
And Jesus is His name.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What on earth?

I love words. I think words have innate power and beauty. However some people do... amazing things with words. Here are two examples I experienced on the drive up to OKC Sunday.

The first was a marquee for a church building in the metropolis of DeKalb, Texas. It said, no lie:
"The Bible-- believe it or be wrong."
I burst out laughing when I saw it. I just could not believe the sheer arrogance. But hey, I should learn not to be surprised when it comes to church-folk.

The second was a song we heard on the radio. What you must understand is that there is a stretch of the journey from T-town to OKC in which you can pick up nothing but country stations. I'm not a country hater, but I'm not a big fan, either. But when this song came on the radio, I again burst out laughing when I realized what they were saying. Here are the words to the chorus, again, no lie:
"At that honky tonk badonkadonk
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
And whoo-wee
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on
That honky tonk badonkadonk"

I understood this song only because my sister had informed me a few weeks ago that a "badonkadonk" is a shapely booty. So... yeah... what a song. :) And y'all were picking on the "Cartoon Song"??? :)

So there ya go. Hope you were as amused as I was.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thoughts on why I can never meet Chris Rice

Although this may appear to be a blog about Chris Rice, it's not. It's about fantasy.

If you know me well or have been a long time blog reader, you know that I simply adore Chris Rice's music. I won't try to start to explain how I feel about his songwriting or I'll never shut up. Let's just say it's... wonderful. :) Although the fact is that I only know Chris Rice through his songwriting and brief comments on a DVD from a concert I have, I really don't know the man Chris Rice. But because his music speaks to me on such a deep spiritual level, I feel like I do know him. My mind has conjured up this image of him as a person, and I have put that person on a pedestal as nearly perfect. It's not something I did consciously, but I've done it. For example, because of the deep nature of many of his songs, I would expect Chris to be rather serious and deep most of the time. We could sit in coffee shops for hours brooding over popular theological points. However, the fact is that Chris is primarily a youth leader, and that job lends itself to being rather... not so serious the majority of the time.

This leads to reason number one that I can't meet Chris Rice. Expectation. As my dear friend Jess pointed out to me the other night, "You can't meet him. That'd ruin the fantasy." He couldn't be just who I wanted him to be, I would have to acknowledge who he is. Tied in along with this is a point that I gleaned from the Oprah DVD commentary on her interview with Paul McCartney. Oprah felt about McCartney much like I feel about Chris. She idolized him, put him on that pedestal. In the commentary she says that she had such great hopes for this meeting. Knowing how silly and unrealistic it was, she was honest about how she hoped he'd react to meeting her. She said (paraphrased), "I wanted him to like me. I wanted him to say, 'Please, be my friend. Come away with me and we can spend the rest of our lives hanging out together, because I think you're cool.' But, he didn't say that." I'm like that with Chris. I'd want him to want to be my friend, to like me, to think I was deep and holy. But chances are that if I ever got to the concert and got to shake his hand, I'd just be another fan that he would take a photo with. And then where would my fantasy be? In the toilet. :) And what if, God forbid, he didn't like me? What if he was conservative? :) What would I do then? I shudder at the thought. :) So, be it healthy or not, I think I'd rather hold onto my fantasy than have it dashed.

I write about this because I believe that it's not just Oprah and I who have these idols (this term used loosely, please no comments on my worship of Chris Rice). Surely some of you, my friends, have these in your own life. If you feel the spirit moving you, please give an amen and perhaps who your person is in the comments section.

I feel somewhat safe in having my fantasy person be Chris Rice, who lives far away in Tennessee and I doubt I will ever meet, let alone have any kind of deeper conversation with him. Like I said before, I don't know if this is healthy or not (feel free to give your opinions). But I do know that some people's idols are in their real lives. Friends or boy/girlfriends or parents or children. This is so risky and leaves so many people hurt in it's wake.

Well, I have run out of thoughts on this subject. Congrats if you made it all the way through. And thanks for all the good comments on the Derek Webb CD. I should say that I do have a special place in my heart for KLOVE because it has ministered to me for so many years inbetween the twinkie songs. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Songs you won't hear on KLOVE :)

While I was in the hospital, one of my dear friends sent me the new Derek Webb CD, Mockingbird. I have been meaning to blog on it for a while because a) I think it's awesome and b) it is very... different from most Christian music.

I like to read the lyrics to songs the first time I listen to them so I can know what the actual message is. The first song that really caught my attention was "A King and a Kingdom." Here are the lines that struck me:

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him

My jaw absolutely dropped when I heard that! Not from horror, but because I've never heard anything like this in Christian music! Oh but wait, there's more.

One of my favorite songs on the CD is called, "I Hate Everything." Here's the chorus:

it’s been one of those kinds of days
and i feel so out of place
and i hate everything, everything
i hate everything but you

Typically I despise the word "hate" and think it is used far too casually by many people, but here I think it's cute. Who hasn't had one of those days where they "hate" the world and just want to be with/talk to that one person, be it a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or dog. But can't you just see KLOVE playing a song called "I Hate Everything"? Heehee, that makes me laugh.

Next up on the list is a powerful song called "Rich Young Ruler," which has earned the entire song being posted:

poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these
my brothers, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me

What a beautiful call for social justice. This really made me reconsider the story of the rich young ruler. In my own self-righteousness, I never really identified myself with him. But if we in America aren't the rich young rulers, then who is?

"My Enemies are Men Like Me" is so blunt and to the point, it really speaks for itself:

how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

because i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life

The last song I want to talk about is "Love is not Against the Law." Again, a strong commentary on loving enemies:

politics or love can make you blind or make you see
make you a slave or make you free

but only one does it all

and it’s giving up your life
for the ones you hate the most
it’s giving them your gown
when they’ve taken your clothes
it’s learning to admit
when you’ve had a hand
in setting them up
in knocking them down

love is not against the law

love is not against the law

are we defending life

when we just pick and choose

lives acceptable to lose
and which ones to defend
‘cause you cannot choose your friends
but you choose your enemies

and what if they were one

one and the same

could you find a way to love them both the same
to give them your name

Well there you go. When something impacts me as much as this CD did, I just feel a need to share it on the blog, even though it makes for a lengthy post that I doubt many will make it through. :)

Derek Webb is a modern day prophet, and it seems that each of his CDs tackle a different issue. I'm glad he had the intestinal fortitude to tackle these subjects.

As the title says, I doubt we'll be hearing KLOVE play these songs anytime before Jesus comes. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

In the spotlight

I'm trying to get back into blogging an talk about things other than my illness, so here goes.

Seems like my dear alma mater, OC, has been getting some attention lately. Apparently they were trying to implement a policy in which an employee of the university who gets a divorce is susceptible to being terminated, if the divorce is not scripturally sound. Due to a lot of negative press the official policy has been done away with.

I'd heard rumors that this was happening, but it was confirmed today when Mike Cope blogged about it. This of course means that all of the Church of Christ blogging world knows about it now. Grrrrrreat. It kind of made me mad that he wrote about it, but I think that was my pride in my school coming out. I was hoping to keep this dark side hidden from public view, ya know? It reminds me of when Anne Coulter was scheduled to speak at Harding and the blogging world went nuts in protest (she ended up being cancelled). Anyway, I read some of the comments on Cope's blog and of course some people were having a field day picking at OC and by association, the Christian Chronicle (which also is close to my heart).

I'm a little torn on what to think about the policy. My first reaction is negative, because the policy is being portrayed as a hard line, "divorced and you're gone" kind of thing. But knowing the leadership of the school, I know that's not true. These are people of compassion and faith and love. And also, I have to think that we have to be holy as a Christian university, and by that I mean we must be set apart. That's why we have daily chapel, that's why we require Bible classes. Shouldn't we have high standards for faculty and administration? Bailey McBride (my hero) wrote a great article about this subject here. I don't know. I go back and forth with myself. Besides, it doesn't really matter what I think, anyway. :)

It just frustrates me that this stupid policy is getting so much attention when there are so many great things about OC. But on the other hand, I think it is good for attention to be drawn to things like this going on in "our fellowship" so we can hold each other accountable. Iron sharpening iron and all that. ;)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Back in Business

Hello loyal blog readers!

I'd like to take a moment to welcome myself back to the blogging world, seeing how it's been over a month since I myself updated.

First I need to say thank you to all of you for your caring, prayers, gifts, and cards. This has been 7 long frustrating months hopefully culminating in the last month, and I wouldn't have made it through without you. Well maybe I would have, but I wouldn't be on speaking terms with God probably. As I was in the ER the Wednesday before last, I was in terrible pain and the procedures they were doing on me were making it worse and I remember just crying and crying and asking why God wouldn't help me. But that wasn't true, wasn't fair. Just spoken out of pain. But God was, has, and is helping me-- through all of you. Thank you so much for being the lights of God in my life when I couldn't see it elsewhere.

This last hospitalization wasn't so bad. I had nice nurses (which truly makes all the difference). I was on some good painkillers (yay morphine and demorol!), which is always great. I left the hospital weaker than when I went in, but overall alright. I have an ear infection, which is a pain, but definitely not worse than anything else I've experienced. Healing from my surgery is going well. My incision is almost nearly healed. I don't think it's been mentioned that I have a feeding tube now. At night for 15 hours I am fed through a feeding pump, which ends up being about 1800 calories a day. Then during the day I eat what I can to supplement that. My doctor wants me to gain 30 pounds by March on this plan. I really hope I can. I gained some weight in the hospital over the past week, so I'm up to 100 pounds. Pretty good since I was in the 80s last week.

I don't want to bore you with details, so I'll wrap up. I love and appreciate you all more than you know.