Monday, November 24, 2008

Your are part of something bigger

If there were one message I could get out lately- at work, at church, among my friends, into my own thick skull- this would be it. Maybe you need it, too.


Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You're fired; your job has been phased out"? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the "lower" the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it's a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything.

-I Corinthians 12:12-27

Friday, November 21, 2008

A few of my favorite things

In the words of my boss, "The past week or two have been a little rough. Lots of projects at work. The sun going down early, and it getting colder. The economy. War. Blah, blah, blah..."

Yes. I agree. So following in Stephen's footsteps and the never-ending quest to try to bring joy into the lives of those around me, I bring you these things that make me happy and maybe they'll make you happy, too. Let's all use the weekend to do at least one thing that makes us happy.
  1. Driving through downtown OKC at night listening to NPR jazz
  2. Skinny lattes from Starbucks
  3. Clear skies
  4. Broccoli and cheese soup
  5. Taking naps while afternoon sun streams in my bedroom windows
  6. Running through my neighborhood in autumn
  7. Giving a running commentary throughout movies (maybe this doesn't make my friends so happy)
  8. Quiet time in the morning and worship music on the way to work
  9. Funny links from my coworkers to keep me laughing during the day
  10. Whole grain bagels with strawberry cream cheese
  11. Sunsets that change the sky into about 7 different colors at once
  12. Postsecret
  13. Old couples in love
  14. Integris hospital commercials
  15. Lighting good smelling candles
  16. Taking pictures of plants up close like the one above (in Marie Antoinette's garden at Versailles)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tired of allegory

I'm tired of this allegorical love business. I realize this is about on par with statements I make such as "I think it's weird that my name is an indefinite article." Yeah, I just say things like that.

But this has been wearing on me. I believe the Bible. I love God and am so blessed to consider my relationship with him genuine and intimate. But still, sometimes I wish there was more.

I read about the intense love between the Schulamite and Solomon in the Song of Songs. It's beautiful and passionate and vivid and I think really represents the kind of relationship God created us for.

And then there's the book of Hosea, where we get this image of God as the "knight in shining armor" (sort of) who rescues us again and again out of the messes we get ourselves in as a demonstration of His faithfulness and redemption and our lacking.

It's beautiful imagery. Perfect as the words of scripture always are. But sometimes I just wish He was here to tell me how much he loves me. Or here to be my defender and rescuer. Stories are great, but lately I've been wishing for something more tangible.

All of these things we experience before the restoration of the world are meant to make us long for something more... and today I'm feeling every ounce of it.

Chris Rice- "Smile"
How far are you, how close am I?
I know your words are true and I don't feel them inside
Still I believe you'll never leave
So where are you now

You're all I have, You're all I know
Your breath is breathing in my soul
Still I am gasping, aching, asking
Where are you now

Cause I just wanna be with You
I just want this waiting to be over
I just want to be with You
And it helps to know the Day is getting closer

Every minute takes an hour
Every inch feels like a mile
Til I won't have to imagine
And I finally get to see You smile

My journey's here, but my heart is There
So I dream and wait, and keep the faith, while You prepare
Our destiny, til You come back for me
Oh, please make it soon!

Cause I just wanna be with You
I just want this waiting to be over
I just want to be with You
And it helps to know the Day is getting closer

Every minute takes an hour
Every inch feels like a mile
Til I won't have to imagine
And I finally get to see You smile

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things that let me know I am getting older

  1. Smile lines
  2. Most Olympians are younger than me
  3. Learning from my mistakes
  4. Putting money in a retirement fund
  5. Grey hair
  6. Being friends for 20+ years
  7. Admiring the idealism of youth
  8. Saying things like "kids these days..."
  9. Going to bed by 11pm
  10. Avoiding foods that upset my stomach
What things remind you that you're "growing up"?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Paris- Delightfully Europe

I remember my first day in Paris (and really every day) we'd walk around the city, and I swear with every corner I turned I'd gasp at the beautiful scenery, architecture, and all things delightfully European. Here are a few of my favorite miscellaneous pictures.

I love this picture. Such a good time.

This is outside Notre Dame. He is apparently the pidgeon man.

This happy child is feeding the birds in front of Notre Dame as well.

It's hard out here for an accordion player.

A mirrored building.

CREPES. Yum. Nutella crepes. I also had a wonderful crepe with egg, cheese, and tomatoes.

My perfect Parisian breakfast. Croissant, cafe au lait, and orange juice. Plus my journal. Perfect.

Cute little cafe in Montmarte.

This was at dinner my last night in Paris. Ross was a wonderful and gracious host and I couldn't have imagined the trip being any more perfect! I am officially one of those Europe-philes now, and I highly recommend Paris to anyone. :)

The rest of my many many Paris pictures can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Paris- The Tours

So, my friend Ross is a tour guide in Paris. He's really great at what he does. He leads walking tours around the city, each with a different theme. I went on three- French Revolution, WWII, and the DaVinci Code (oh yes- I saw where the grail is hidden). :)

It was fantastic because even when we were just running around, he knew what almost everything was and the history behind it. It made the experience so much more rich and great! I highly recommend Fat Tire Tours in Paris, although I hear their best guide is leaving at the end of November. :)

Tour guide Ross in action!

This was the DaVinci Code tour group. Miko on the left was from Finland, and Marina and George on the right were from Canada. We went to lunch with them afterward- they were great! I loved meeting the different people.

This was the most important monument Ross pointed out. When Texas was a republic, this was its embassy in France. ~Texas, our Texas, all hail the might state...~

Like all roads lead to Rome, so all tours go through the Louve. So here are my Louve pictures.

Lovely morning light at the Louve.

A view towards the Tuileries Gardens

Modern classic.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Paris- Churches

Paris has a lot of churches, and I went to a lot of them. :)

Notre Dame behind some pretty leaves. This was one of the first things I saw in Paris. Pretty breathtaking.

Ross had a very good way of describing many gothic churches like Notre Dame- a "minor key" church. Very eerie. I loved the outside, so detailed and intricate, but the inside was so dark. We accidentally went to mass on Sunday there, which was cool.

I thought this was a good picture to show the intricacy of the carvings. This is an archway above one of the doors.

And here you can see you multiply that intricate carving several times over! See the 28 kings up there? They're the "Kings of Judah". The Revolutionaries thought they were kings of France, so they blew all their faces off. Bad revolutionaries! Note to all- if you're conducting some kind of revolution, please do not destroy all the art of that country's history.

Notre Dame is very big. Look how little my head looks next to it!

Everyone loves a flying buttress!

My favorite church- St Etienne du Mont, in honor of St. Genevieve. So full of light and beautiful. This bridge-like structure is called a "rood screen", and symbolizes our need for an intercessor in prayer (hence Jesus in the middle).

This church really took my breath way. I felt overwhelmed by the symbolism and beauty of the place and the story of St. Genevieve and had the chance to spend some special time in prayer here.

This is St. Genevieve. She is the patron saint of Paris, because once when the city was under attack, she gathered a large group of women to pray, and the city was spared. Never underestimate the power of prayer!

St. Denis, the oldest church in Paris and the resting place of many French monarchs (pictures in a later post).

Sacre Coeur, in Montmarte.

And what's a picture of a gorgeous church without our smiling mugs in front of it? :) What a cool place. In a very bohemian part of Paris (think Moulin Rouge), this church is on top of a large hill. We sat for hours talking and looking out over the city lights.

In St. Germain. The Catholics love their candles. :) I love how this picture turned out.

There you have another installment of the Paris extravaganza! Only a few more to go. :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Paris- Luxembourg Gardens

One of my favorite places in Paris was the Luxembourg Gardens. Wow. Beautiful fall foliage! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

A storm rolling past.

Pretty flowers. I'm a compulsive flower picture-taker.

Pony rides! I did not ride in the pony carriage.

Autumnal colors.

More fall goodness contrasted against a statue.

Me and Ross. Probably one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Luxembourg palace in the background. It's where the French senate meets now.

At the fountain in the center kids pushed around little toy sailboats with big sticks.

Such great landscaping here.

Too cool for school.