Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Chistmas Story

I don't know what your Christmas traditions are, but in the spirit of reflecting on just what all the fuss is about I thought I'd post this:

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Psalm 27

As a person who wrestles a lot with fear, this Psalm is another favorite of mine.

Psalm 27
Of David.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Psalm 62

This has been a favorite Psalm of mine for a number of years. I love that it comes right out and commands us to pour out our hearts to God. And I love that it gives me language to exhort my heart, to remind it where my trust and hope belongs - in God and in Him alone.

Psalm 62

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

9 Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

10 Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,

12 and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Get your Sandpaper Dolls fix for the Holidays

We've had the opportunity to contribute to several compilations this year and three of them were just recently released:

Ear X-Tacy Comp (free download here):
LEO Review

sonaBlast compilation benefiting Home of the Innocents (available at Ear X-Tacy & Momma's Hip):
Album Info/Online Ordering from sonaBlast

ECBall "Face a Frowning World" (available all stinkin' over the place):
Courier Journal Review
LEO Review

Friday, November 6, 2009

Playing Dress-Up

I was looking for something fun to do this Saturday night and a friend of mine has invited me to a 1930's themed party. I've been having a blast planning my costume and make-up. Thankfully I already own a black dress that, combined with my ankle-strap red heels, should be perfect. I've been googling 30s makeup tips and hairstyles and I'm thinking about buying my first set of false eyelashes tomorrow.

It reminds me of being a kid and playing dress-up. My mom and her siblings hung out at my grandparent's a lot when I was little, which meant I got to spend lots of time playing with my cousins. I had 2 other girl cousins close to my age and we would go up to my grandmothers attic and play for hours - trying on "costume" after costume.

I played dress-up in highschool too. I raided closets (and the aforementioned attic) and customized (read: bleach tie-dyed) hand-me-downs to create much of my highschool wardrobe. I felt like I could be a different character everyday.

I miss that. I miss the freedom of being able to dress-up or assume a character and not worry about whether or not I could pull it off (I have a tendancy to avoid or half-do things when I give into fear). So, I'm excited for the chance to put off fear and put real enthusiasm into getting ready for this party. Hopefully we'll have some fun pictures to share :}

Hooray for dress-up!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I'm looking forward to going home, making dinner (fish, rice, & a baked potato), working on my theology notes, practicing my Etude & Mephis Minnie tune on the guitar ("I'm Talkin' Bout You"), and possibly buying my first SM58 with this year's "Music Savings" (the money I actually *made* on music this year). I plan on taking a Facebook poll when I get home to get suggestions of where to get a good deal on said SM58. Feel free to post here as well if you have suggestions. I'm currently considering this bundle:
SM58, cord, and stand at Musician's Friend

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Great Green Smoothie

My friend Laura Roberts, swears by the Green Smoothie. They are a yummy, easy way to get in all your green leafy vegetable servings. I've made it part of my weekday breakfast along with a Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Muffin.

Here are a couple Green Smoothie recipes:

From Laura:
1/2 an avocado
three great big handfuls of baby spinach
a big handful sliced frozen strawberries
3 or 4 big handfuls frozen mixed fruit (pineapple, peaches, mango)

My own concoction:
1 c plain, fat-free yogurt
1/4 avacado
1 banana
3 big handfuls baby spinach
1 cup frozen pineapple (or some other fruit)

I have some mangos and pomegranites on hand right now that will probably find their way into a smoothie.

Just toss everything in a blender, blend, and enjoy!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Blueberries

This is an adaptation of the classic Hershey's Cocoa chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake with Blueberries
2 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. Hershey's Cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

2 eggs
1 c. milk (I use skim)
1/2 c. vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

several handfuls of small frozen blueberries (keep in freezer until time to add so they don't begin to thaw)
several handfuls of dark chocolate chips

chocolate glaze (recipe below)
powdered sugar

Bundt pan (I use a silicone bundt pan)

Heat oven to 350o, grease bundt pan (I use olive oil or PAM olive oil spray)
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla
Beat on med. speed for 2 minutes (I use setting 2 on my KitchenAid mixer)
Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin) **Learn from my mistakes: *Do Not* use the mixer for this step - you'll get batter *everywhere*
Pour into bundt pan
sprinkle blueberries and chocolate chips around the batter (the blueberries and chocolate chips should sink to the bottom of the bundt pan on their own)
Bake 45 min or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (I have adapted this from a recipe for 2 9" pans that bakes for 30-35 minutes. It takes a bit longer to bake in the bundt pan, but I never remember how much longer. The toothpick test will let you know when it's done.)
Cool completely before removing from bundt pan (since the blueberries and chocolate chips are at the borrom of the pan, I can never get the cake out in one peice unless I let it cool almost completely. I stick the cake in the fridge or freezer if I'm in a hurry)
Flip bundt pan onto platter and remove the cake
Drizzle glaze (recipe below) over cake, sprinkle powdered sugar over glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa
2 tbsp. skim milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add a few drops of skim milk, if needed, to acheive desired consistency

Friday, October 30, 2009

Recipe: Whole Wheat Bread

This recipe is based on the Whole Grain Wheat Bread recipe in the KitchenAid cookbook. I use a Girmi chopper (as seen here on Amazon) to grind the wheat berries - grind, sift, repeat until you have a tolerably fine flour. Using my home-ground flour this makes a dense, *incredibly* filling bread. I have yet to get a really tall loaf out of it, but I assume that's because of my home-ground four isn't all as fine as store-bought. It generally takes me about an hour and a half to process the flour required for the recipe below.

It's been a while since I've made this recipe but I hope to use it Saturday. The whole process usually takes me about 5 hours. I haven't included any directions for processing the flour. Post here and let me know if you'd like me to post information on the process I use.

9-10 1/2 c ground wheat berries/whole wheat flour
1/2 c plus 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
3 1/3 c warm water (105o - 115o)
3 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/8 c powdered milk
3 tsp salt
15 tsp gluten (the box of gluten I have suggests 1 1/2 tsp gluten to every cup of flour)
1/2 c olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oregano

olive oil to grease bowls and pans

Girmi chopper, sifter, 3 bowls (if you're grinding your own flour)
6 Qt KitchenAid mixer
1 microwaveable 4c measuring cup (I warm the water and prepare the yeast mixture in this)
Candy thermometer
2 large bowls (1 may be KitchenAid bowl)
2 tea towels
2 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans

Dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar in water and add yeast. Let mixture stand. (Err on the side of letting it stand too long)

Place 7 1/2 c flour, powdered milk, oregano, gluten, remaining brown sugar, and salt in bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute. Continuing on speed 2, gradually add yeast mixture and add oil and honey to flour mixture, about 2-3 minutes. Mix 1 minute longer. (Try and be exact about the mixing timing so you avoid over-mixing. Feel free to let the dough rest a bit between mixings and again after this last mixing.)

Exchange beater for dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and gradually add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. (Mine is usually still fairly moist and sticky at this stage.) Knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes longer. (Again, be stingy with the mixing times and free with the resting times.)

KitchenAid Note: Dough may not form a ball on hook; however, as long as there is contact between dough and hook, kneading will be accomplished. Do not add more than the maximum amount of flour specified or dry loaf will result.

Place in a greased bowl (I use olive oil to grease the bowl and loaf pans), turning to grease top. Cover, let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a heavily greased loaf pan. Cover, let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400o for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350o and bake 25 minutes longer. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recipe: Spaghetti Sauce

I combined a couple sauce recipes from a Better Homes & Gardens cook book to get this one. It is very filling.

1 tbsp (or so) olive oil
1 lb italian sausage
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1/3 onion, diced

1 7oz. can sliced mushrooms
1 7oz. can button mushrooms
2 10oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 14.5oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 16oz. can tomato sauce
1 12oz. can tomato paste
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 large skillet
1 large pot with lid

In skillet with olive oil, cook onions, garlic and sausage till sausage is brown and onion is translucent
Pour cooked onions, garlic, and sausage into pot
Add remaining ingredients
Bring sauce to a boil then reduce medium heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

This is my default "hospitality" meal - when someone's sick or just had a baby, this is what I'll usually take them. I think my mom may have originally found this recipe on a can of Veg-All or some such place. It makes great leftovers, being one of those foods that tastes even better the next day. If you can't cook the pie right away you can keep it in the fridge for a few days. If you need to wait longer than that you can freeze it.

Chicken Pot Pie
1 can (~16oz) regular Veg-All
2 cans cream of potato soup
1/2 cup milk (I generally use skim because it's what I have on hand)
2 cups chicken (I generally buy about 16oz of canned white meat)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
2 9" pie crusts (I generally use the pre-made Pillsbury pie crusts)

Combine ingredients (except the pie crusts) in a large bowl, stir together

Put one pie crust in the bottom of a 9" pie pan, pour in the ingredients, and cover with the other pie crust. Crimp the edges of the crust and cut vents in the top of the pie.

Bake at 375o for 40min.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Gospel, in 300 words or less

My community group was talking about Gospel & Mission last week. (A community group is a group of people from Sojourn who get together weekly to talk about the sermon and how it applies to their lives and who are committed to being in each others lives for community, fellowship, and accountability.) One of the things we discussed was how people can grow up in the church and be stumped by the simple question "What is the gospel?" So, for this week, we gave ourselves the assignment to write out the gospel in our own words. We're supposed to avoid "church lingo" as much as possible.

We're going to share our homework with each other tonight.

Here's my effort:
God is a holy God. We are sinners. Because God is holy and we are sinners, we are separated from God - we are cut off, we are His enemies. And this is a situation we cannot remedy ourselves. We can't ever make up for it. The gap between God's holiness and our sinfulness is too great.

But God wanted to have a relationship with us.

So God the Father sent His Son (who is also fully God) to live a perfect, sinless life, be crucified in payment for our sins, and be raised to life after 3 days, conquering death.

Now, if we trust in Christ, in the work He accomplished by His death and resurrection, we will be restored to relationship with God. God will count our sins paid for by the sacrifice of Christ. He will count Christ's righteousness (His perfect "doing right"-ness) as ours. He will send His Spirit to live in us.

While we're here on this earth, that Spirit will work in us to make us more and more like Jesus - to work out more and more in practice what is already true in fact: that we no longer have to do what our sinful nature tells us to do but we are free, by the Spirit's power, to live lives that are pleasing to God.

Then, when we die, we will go to live with God forever in a place with no more sin and no more suffering, a place of unimaginable joy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

On a Sweeter Note

It's been a heavy couple days here on the blog so I thought I'd send you over to my friend Sarah's blog ( She doesn't have as much time to update her blog as I think she'd like, but I've found her posts encouraging.

She's the mother of two sweet girls (who are two of my favorite tiny people), wife of the worship arts pastor at Sojourn and quite the crafter. She blogs about all these things - crafts, homemaking, parenting, marriage - and her journey as she seeks to grow in contentment.

To steal her J.I. Packer quote:
"Contentment is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Psalms of Depression

This Psalm was part of my reading today. The talk of death and rejection resonated with me. Even in the midst of these feelings, the Psalmist comes before God. I love that it's okay to come to God with feelings like this.

Psalm 88
1 O LORD, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.

2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of trouble
and my life draws near the grave.

4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man without strength.

5 I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.

6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.

7 Your wrath lies heavily upon me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.

8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;

9 my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, O LORD, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.

10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do those who are dead rise up and praise you?

11 Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?

12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

13 But I cry to you for help, O LORD;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.

14 Why, O LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?

15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death;
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.

16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.

17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.

18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
the darkness is my closest friend.

Down the Rabbit Hole

One of the things Edward Welch talks about in Depression: A Stubborn Darkness is listening to your depression so that you can learn its triggers, learn to identify its early warning signs.

I already have one "rabbit hole" labeled family, but last night I tripped down another. It's a familiar one - preceded by increasingly cutting thoughts that tell me more and more convincingly that I'm unwanted - and don't deserve to be wanted. I don't mean wanted by the opposite sex, I mean wanted by friends.

I still don't understand this particular rabbit hole very well.

I recognize the obsessive email & Facebook checking that seems to contribute to my descent. But while those things are almost always part of this path, doing those things doesn't always lead me here.

I also recognize thoughts centering on a specific friendship - one that, to me, feels broken.

When I'm on this particular path I see rejection everywhere - and the whispers, that slowly grow to howls, tell me that rejection is only right and fair, it's what should be.

I praise God for giving me relief last night. It was a fairly rough descent, not the worst I've had, but still pretty rough. I finally got out of bed and emailed a couple of friends. I felt like someone needed to know what was going through my head. When I went back to bed God, mercifully, gave me better success with my mental version of sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling "lalalalala" - refusing to indulge the persecuting thoughts and fixing my mind on Him. And He, again mercifully, took me quickly off to sleep.

This morning (praise God) those howls are reduced to a low rumble.

Since this blog is one of the tools I'm using to try and practice the things I'm learning about this fight with depression and since I believe I'm not alone in this fight - whether it be the fight with depression or the fight with particular thoughts - I wanted to share this struggle with you. If you notice that I'm being more symbolic than specific...well, the internet isn't precisely a "safe place" :}

Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boo Depression...Boo

Yikes. When I got home from work today I didn't expect to be fighting this fight. I'm sitting here, knowing I need to leave for rehearsal and having a really tough time getting myself to get up and go. I would *so* much rather cancel...but I can't. We have a show Saturday that we *have* to rehearse for. And it's not that I don't like rehearsals. Boo stupid depression. It's one of those nights where I'd rather stay home and cry. What's that about? Today's been a pretty good day as circumstances go.

Praise God this will not last forever.

Now to go apologize to my band-mates for being late. (I just got a "where are you" text.)

Sojourn's "Over the Grave" on iTunes

Sojourn's latest CD, Over the Grave was released yesterday on iTunes and various other eletronic media outlets. Go get it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I had the opportunity to see this with a friend and her daughter last Friday. We accidentally went into the wrong theater so we saw the last half of the movie first (which made the whole experience more of an adventure in my opinion :}). I have no real sense of what the experience is like when you see the film the "right" way, but I enjoyed our experience.

The movie crystalized something I've reflected on off & on over the years.

(Let me preface this by saying that I do not have children. I'd love to hear from some actual parents on this topic.)

I've heard parents recall some thing they thought was incredibly significant to their child...that the child doesn't even remember. And I've heard grown children recall some thing their parents did that affected them deeply - and the parent never realized it was such a big deal.

As I've grown up and thought about what I want to be like as a parent I've, of course, had those "I'll never do this" or "I'll handle that situation differently" talks with myself, many of which could be traced back to some experience of my childhood that affected me deeply - an experience which may not have even registered with my parents.

Seeing this movie made me realize that, as imperfect parents of imperfect children, it is foolishness to suppose we can control all those situations. Aside from our limitations as humans (with our inability to always do as we intend to do), how could we think we are wise and astute enough to correctly identify and smoothly navigate all those potential "I hate you" moments? (Or as "Where the Wild Things Are" puts it, those "I'm going to Eat You!" moments.)

It seems to me that, rather than focusing on avoiding those moments, we should expect that those moments will occur and we should help our children learn to navigate them. After all, we will experience those moments in most every relationship. We need to learn how to work through them. We need to learn how to respond to the feelings those moments bring - how to be angry but not sin, how to forgive and seek forgiveness, how to be reconciled.

You will hurt me and I will hurt you. But where do we go from there? (And how do we get there?)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Psalms of Depression

The Psalm below was very encouraging to me during my last bout of depression. I believe I came across it one of the nights I was struggling with an onslaught of insecurity and anxiety.

My two favorite things about this Psalm?
1) It begins by describing the very thing I was feeling.
2) It gives an answer to that feeling.

The Psalmist is struggling and what does he do? He decides to recount to works of God. He decides that in the face of this distress, he will deliberately remind himself who God is and what he has done. Psalm 78 seems to continue this thought with its account of God's rescue of the people of Israel from Egypt.

Psalm 77
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.

2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.

3 I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.

4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.

5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;

6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

7 "Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?

8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?

9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"

10 Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High."

11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

12 I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.

13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?

14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.

15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.

17 The clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.

18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.

19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Practicing Hope

I started reading through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology this summer with a few other women. One of the reasons I wanted to study this book was that I feel my theology is a bit...soft.

I've been encouraged to see the ways in which my theology (& by this I mean my thinking about God) has become more solid - better articulated, with the ring of truth...instead of the squish of lies.

And since the battle with depression is so much a battle of the mind (fighting lies about God and myself with the truth), I'm finding this theology training helpful. I'd encourage those of you who struggle with depression, if you haven't already, find a few solid, godly friends and a solid godly book, and study theology - study (& practice articulating) the truth about God and yourself.

I've listed a few of the doctrines that I've found helpful below. These were things I already knew to some extent, but now I know them better. Preparing to discuss these things with other women has driven me to test whether I can support these things scripturally. Also, Grudem does a wonderful job of working his way logically through the arguments and issues surrounding these things. Following along with him (and testing his arguments) has given me confidence as it lays to rest doubts I didn't even know I had.

Authority of Scripture: The idea that all the words in Scripture are God's in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God

Inerrancy: The idea that scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.

Clarity of Scripture: The idea that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God's help and being willing to follow it.

The concepts above have been particularly helpful since my depression likes to censor as I read scripture - "That's not really true", "That can't be true for you", etc. It has been so encouraging to come to the Word with increased confidence that I can trust what it is telling me!

Smells like...depression...mmm...depression

I feel that little black rain cloud of depression lingering again - which is funny since he never really left, just diminished...but I can feel him wanting to come back again, bigger and stronger.

I want to try and follow this advice from Depression: A Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch

"if depression gives you an early warning - and it usually does - bring everything you have to the fight. Take your soul to task. Ask for help. Force-feed yourself Scripture and words of hope. Be on guard against self-pity, grumbling, and complaining. And keep the cross close at hand."

So, at least today, after I've spent some time reading the Bible, I want to come back here and use this blog to "practice" thankfulness, words of hope, and keeping the cross close at hand.

I'm *hoping* that, in addition to sparing my friends long, blog-like emails :}, my depression posts will be an encouragement to you who read them, especially those of you who struggle with depression.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Miscellania

I don't have a nice, thought out, well-formulated blog for you today, but in the interests of blogging 2-3 times a week, I bring you: The Miscellania.

What do you do when you have lots of studying to do and no time to hang out with your friends? Have work-dates. I'm hoping to try this out with a few friends in the coming weeks, friends who are also busy and have projects to work on.

The idea is, we'll meet up and work on our various projects - writing, grading, theology notes, whatever. Hopefully we'll get more done than we would working alone (since it's easier to stay on task when the person sitting beside you is working) and we'll actually get to see each other. It may not be the ideal way to spend time with friends...but it sure beats *not* spending time with friends.

I was musing this weekend about how I sometimes feel like I'm pertrifying - becoming stuck in my ever narrowing ways, enjoying less and less, etc. It finally hit me that this is probably a result of the depression I struggle with rather than some sort of early, irreversible invasion of stodginess. And then, as a friend was holding me accountable for practicing thankfulness, I realized that rather than trying to find the solution to my enui in some new activity, I should be praticing thankfulness for the things that are already in my life.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Comfort & Sovereignty

I just got some stressful news about illnesses in the family and I've been feeling overwhelmed lately anyhow - stress, depression, etc. I just read these verses (while catching up on my daily reading) and they were comforting to me in the midst of my desire to freak out about everything that's going on.

Isaiah 54:16-17
16 "See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;
17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and this is their vindication from me,"
declares the LORD.

My God, You are sovereign over all of this - the circumstances, my family, myself, my tempter...all of it. Praise be to our glorious God.

The Heav’ns Declare Thy Glory, Lord

Here's another Isaac Watts hymn for you, this one on the theme of God's Word.

The Heav’ns Declare Thy Glory, Lord
by Isaac Watts

The heav’ns declare Thy glory, Lord,
In every star Thy wisdom shines
But when our eyes behold Thy Word,
We read Thy Name in fairer lines.

The rolling sun, the changing light,
And nights and days, Thy power confess
But the blest volume Thou hast writ
Reveals Thy justice and Thy grace.

Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise
Round the whole earth, and never stand:
So when Thy truth begun its race,
It touched and glanced on every land.

Nor shall Thy spreading Gospel rest
Till through the world Thy truth has run,
Till Christ has all the nations blest
That see the light or feel the sun.

Great Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Bless the dark world with heav’nly light;
Thy Gospel makes the simple wise,
Thy laws are pure, Thy judgments right.

Thy noblest wonders here we view
In souls renewed and sins forgiv’n;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew,
And make Thy Word my guide to Heaven.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diversity in the church as a reflection of God's wisdom

I'm participating in a women's study that's reading through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. We spent a good chunk of our discussion time this past Saturday talking about the passage below (from ch. 12).

"When Paul preaches the gospel both to Jews and to Gentiles, and they become unified in the one body of Christ (Eph. 3:6), the incredible "mystery" that was "hidden for all ages in God who created all things" (Eph 3:9) is plain for all to see, namely, that in Christ such totally diverse people become united. When groups so different racially and culturally become members of the one body of Christ, then God's purpose is fulfilled, "that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places" (Eph 3:10).

"Today this means that God's wisdom is shown even to angels and demons ("principalities and powers") when people from different racial and cultural backgrounds are united in Christ in the church. If the Christian church is faithful to God's wise plan, it will always be on the forefront in breaking down racial and social barriers in societies around the world, and will thus be a visible manifestation of God's amazingly wise plan to bring great unity out of great diversity and thereby to cause all creation to honor him."

The comments below are re-posted from a discussion on our church message board.

I was really convicted of my personal complacency in this area by our discussion Saturday.

How easy is it for me to continue to have friends who are basically just like me and not make the effort to befriend people who are different? And of course I don't mean token befriending - the kind that just lets us check off the "I have a friend" box. From the conversations I've had with people about diversity - about working towards more diversity - it seems like something we have to work towards deliberately because we are so blind to the things that keep us from it.

It's so easy to gravitate toward people who are like me - who like the bands/movies/books I like, who worship in a style I'm comfortable with, who are in a similar stage of life, etc. - and so much harder to make it work with people who are different - to navigate the waters of what's offensive and what's acceptable, to learn how to communicate effectively, etc. And since it's a habit to gravitate towards people who are like me, it seems reasonable that I should need to be intentional about seeking out people who aren't like me.

And of course, I'm not proposing that we should do that as some sort of salvation substitute, but rather as a reflection & celebration of what Christ did when He reconciled us with His Father - for we are far more different from Him than we are from each other.

I was also convicted of my complacency with regards to black-white reconcilliation in this city. I don't know this for certain, but I think there's a lot of hurt to be healed. And if I sit here, doing nothing, comfortable in my ignorance, I think I'm perpetuating that broken, hurtful system. It smells like injustice to me.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I struggle off and on with depression (mostly mild depression, thankfully). I've been working my way slowly through Depression: A Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch. I read the passage below the other morning and found its message helpful:

"One reason to listen to depression is that you will realize that it has a history. It usually emerges for a reason. If you think of your own history of depression, you can find early warnings....if depression gives you an early warning - and it usually does - bring everything you have to the fight. Take your soul to task. Ask for help. Force-feed yourself Scripture and words of hope. Be on guard against self-pity, grumbling, and complaining. And keep the cross close at hand."

Friday, October 2, 2009


I spent a little time today updating the ol' web page. Stop by and check it out:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Learning the Blues, a playlist

I'm taking guitar lessons and my instructor asked me to come in with a few blues tunes I'd like to learn. So, I created this playlist o' tunes (the duplicates are included to offer arrangement options):

Baby, No, No! - Big Memphis Ma Rainey
Baby, Please Don't Go - Muddy Waters
Black Mountain Blues - Big Joe Duskin
Blues In the Night - Big Joe Turner
Blues In the Night - Dinah Shore
Call Me Anything (But Call Me) - Big Memphis Ma Rainey
Done Got Old - Heartless Bastards
Done Got Old (Live) - Junior Kimbrough
Feel So Bad - Lightnin' Hopkins
I Cant' Be Satisfied - Muddy Waters
I'm Talking About You - Memphis Minnie
It Serves You Right To Suffer - John Lee Hooker
Low Down Blues - Blind Willie McTell
Rolling Stone - Muddy Waters
You Shook Me - Muddy Waters

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stress & Writing

There's the kind of stress that feeds writing...and the kind of stress that stifles it. I seem to be in a season of the latter - a season where even when I have time to write, my mind is full of noise & nothingness rather than melodies & lyrics. Even bad lyrics can lead somewhere...but no lyrics?

Ah well, back to work...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Terrible God, That Reign’st On High

Sojourn's sermon today focuses on God's holiness, specifically as it is portrayed in Isaiah 6:1-8. That being the case, this, the final hymn of "Hymn Week", seemed a fitting choice for today.

by Isaac Watts

Terrible God, that reign’st on high,
How awful is Thy thund’ring hand!
Thy fiery bolts, how fierce they fly!
Nor can all earth or hell withstand.

This the old rebel angels knew,
And Satan fell beneath Thy frown;
Thine arrows struck the traitor through,
And weighty vengeance sunk him down.

This Sodom felt, and feels it still,
And roars beneath th’eternal load:
“With endless burnings who can dwell?
Or bear the fury of a God?”

Tremble ye sinners, and submit,
Throw down your arms before His throne;
Bend your heads low beneath His feet,
Or His strong hand shall crush you down.

And ye, bless’d saints, that love Him too,
With rev’rence bow before His Name;
Thus all His heav’nly servants do:
God is a bright and burning flame.

I Would, But Cannot Sing

This song reminds me of Paul's lament in Romans 7. I appreciate the way it brings those truths to bear on our worship - that we cannot sing, or pray, or repent, or even believe without God's intervention.

by John Newton

I would, but cannot sing,
Guilt has untuned my voice;
The serpent sin’s envenomed sting
Has poisoned all my joys.

I know the Lord is nigh,
And would, but cannot, pray;
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away.

I would but can’t repent
Though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
Till Jesus make it soft.

I would but cannot love,
Though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have pow’r to move
A soul so base as mine.

I would, but cannot rest
In God’s most holy will;
I know what He appoints is best,
Yet murmur at it still!

Oh could I but believe!
Then all would easy be;
I would, but cannot, Lord relieve,
My help must come from Thee!

But if indeed I would,
Though I can nothing do,
Yet the desire is something good,
For which my praise is due.

By nature prone to ill,
Till Thine appointed hour
I was as destitute of will,
As now I am of pow’r.

Wilt Thou not crown, at length,
The work Thou hast begun?
And with a will, afford me strength
In all Thy ways to run.

O How I Love Thy Holy Law!

This summer several women from Sojourn walked through a study of the doctrine of the word of God using Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology (read stories from women who participated here).

The hymn below would have been *perfect* for the week we discussed the doctrine of the necessity of Scripture.

Each week I selected songs for us to sing from our Sojourn "songbook" (the songs we use in our Sunday services), songs that related to the topic we discussed. I did not find many songs that discussed and celebrated the Word of God. We wound up singing We Are Listening almost every other week. (You can listen to We Are Listening and donwload the chord chart here.)

The church needs more songs that celebrate and teach us about the Word of God - whether we write new ones like Jeremy Quillo did, or reintroduce our congregations to hymns like the one below.

by Isaac Watts

O how I love Thy holy law!
’Tis daily my delight;
And thence my meditations draw
Divine advice by night.

My waking eyes prevent the day
To meditate Thy Word;
My soul with longing melts away
To hear Thy Gospel, Lord.

How doth Thy Word my heart engage!
How well employ my tongue!
And in my tiresome pilgrimage,
Yields me a heav’nly song.

Am I a stranger or at home,
’Tis my perpetual feast;
Not honey dropping from the comb
So much allures the taste.

No treasures so enrich the mind;
Nor shall Thy Word be sold
For loads of silver well refined,
Nor heaps of choicest gold.

When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
Thy promises of grace
Are pillars to support my hope,
And there I write Thy praise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My God! How Perfect are Thy Ways!

The hymn below speaks of how our own sin corrupts everything we try to offer God in worship and reminds us that Christ is our rightousness, the redeemer even of our worship.

This song reminds me of Lead Us Back, by Sojourn's Bobby Gilles and Brooks Ritter. (You can listen to Lead Us Back and download the chord chart for it here.) Lead Us Back is a song of corporate repentance - repentance from worshipping comfort, from favortism, and from legalism.

The songs speak of different sins, but both lead the singer to confess and repent specific sins, rather than settling for some nebulous "I'm sorry God, I sinned again" or jumping straight to "Thank you for forgiving me" without ever mourning our sin.

by William Cowper

My God! how perfect are Thy ways!
But mine polluted are;
Sin twines itself about my praise,
And slides into my prayer.

When I would speak what Thou hast done
To save me from my sin;
I cannot make Thy mercies known
But self-applause creeps in.

Divine desire, that holy flame
Thy grace creates in me;
Alas! impatience is its name,
When it returns to Thee.

This heart, a fountain of vile thoughts,
How does it overflow?
While self upon the surface floats
Still bubbling from below.

Let others in the gaudy dress
Of fancied merit shine;
The Lord shall be my righteousness
The Lord for ever mine.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

O Lord, Look Down From Heaven

Our modern choruses seem to revolve around a small handful of themes, but the old hymns discuss a broad variety of issues. Take the hymn below for example. When was the last time your church sang about the threat of heresy and false teachers?

by Martin Luther

O Lord, look down from Heaven, behold
And let Thy pity waken:
How few are we within Thy fold,
Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand,
Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us o’ertaken.

With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error’s maze astounded.

May God root out all heresy
And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: “Now, where is he
That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail;
What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master.”

Therefore saith God, “I must arise,
The poor My help are needing;
To Me ascend My people’s cries,
And I have heard their pleading.
For them My saving Word shall fight
And fearlessly and sharply smite,
The poor with might defending.”

As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So through God’s Word shall men endure
Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation.

Thy truth defend, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of their way
Keep Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation.

I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow

Day 2 of "Hymn Week" brings us this hymn by John Newton. I don't think I've ever sung a song in church that so clearly talks about this particular, common (I think), frustration.

by John Newton

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Long Have I Sat Beneath the Sound

As I mentioned last week, I recently spent time on cyberhymnal trolling for hymn texts. I thought I'd share a few more with you.

This hymn is a beautiful prayer lamenting how far short we fall - how little we are moved, how often apathetic - and asking God to work in us, to make His Word effectual.

by Isaac Watts

Long have I sat beneath the sound
Of Thy salvation, Lord;
But still how weak my faith is found,
And knowledge of Thy Word!

Oft I frequent Thy holy place
And hear almost in vain;
How small a portion of Thy grace
My memory can retain!

My dear Almighty, and my God,
How little art Thou known
By all the judgments of Thy rod,
And blessings of Thy throne!

How cold and feeble is my love!
How negligent my fear!
How low my hope of joys above!
How few affections there!

Great God! Thy sovereign power impart
To give Thy Word success;
Write Thy salvation in my heart,
And make me learn Thy grace.

Show my forgetful feet the way
That leads to joys on high;
There knowledge grows without decay,
And love shall never die.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crickets in the key of C

It's Saturday. I was tempted to write another long and serious blog post, but it's Saturday. Besides, when I started this thing I intended to write short posts - who reads those long posts all the way through anyway? So, today, I bring you: random facts about crickets.

I seem to have an innate need to research random facts and to know things in all their minutiae, so when someone told me recently "if you get enough crickets together they chirp in the key of C", I had to know more. Since he didn't seem to know if it was just the single note 'C' (and if so, which 'C'?) or which 'C' scale (major, minor, pentatonic? I mean, to really indicate "the key of C" wouldn't they have to be chirping 8 different tones?)...I decided to google-up on the matter.

I didn't find anything about crickets chirping in the key of C, but I did read that different species have different characteristic pitches and that you can, apparently, estimate the temperature based on the species of cricket and the number of chirps per minute (since crickets chirp more or less based on the temperature): calculate the temperature using crickets.

I also read that the snowy tree cricket (sometimes called the temperature cricket, which my wiki-research suggests is the cricket I'm most likely to hear around here) chirps around 2.7kHZ, which is somewhere between the E and F 3 octaves above middle C:
The call of the snowy tree cricket
Translating HZ to Pitch

So, Happy Saturday, now you too know entirely too much about cricket chirps.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On a lighter note

Two things you need to know to fully appreciate this post:
1 - Sojourn has been working for a few years now on a project to take Isaac Watts hymns as inspiration/source material to write new songs for the church. (You can find out about part 1 of the project on Sojourn Music)
2 - As I mentioned yesterday, Sojourn will be talking about the Song of Solomon this week.

I was trolling cyberhymnal for hymn texts and I ran across this, Isaac Watt's take on Song of Solomon:


We are a garden walled around,
Chosen and made peculiar ground;
A little spot enclosed by grace
Out of the world’s wide wilderness.

Like trees of myrrh and spice we stand,
Planted by God the Father’s hand;
And all His springs in Zion flow,
To make the young plantation grow.

Awake, O, heav’nly wind! and come,
Blow on this garden of perfume;
Spirit divine! descend and breathe
A gracious gale on plants beneath.

Make our best spices flow abroad,
To entertain our Savior God
And faith, and love, and joy appear,
And every grace be active here.

Let my Belovèd come and taste
His pleasant fruits at His own feast:
“I come, My spouse, I come!” He cries,
With love and pleasure in His eyes.

Our Lord into His garden comes,
Well pleased to smell our poor perfumes,
And calls us to a feast divine,
Sweeter than honey, milk, or wine.

“Eat of the tree of life, My friends,
The blessings that My Father sends;
Your taste shall all My dainties prove,
And drink abundance of My love.”

Jesus, we will frequent Thy board,
And sing the bounties of our Lord;
But the rich food on which we live
Demands more praise than tongues can give.

I appreciate the view of the Song of Solomon as a parable of God's love for us (though, given the graphic nature of the Song of Solomon, I confess that interpretation weirds me out a bit), but my inner middle-schooler would be decidedly distracted if we decided to sing this Watt's hymn Sunday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Patient Lover Be

I was rehearsing with Jamie Barnes last night for a show we're doing tonight (shameless plug: Skull Alley, 7PM, $5). We had been talking about the task of writing liturgy for this coming Sunday - the sermon will be on the Song of Solomon. We were running through "Patient lover be" and I mentioned that maybe he could use that song as the call to worship. (If you aren't familiar with the song you can download it here ) He didn't see the connection, saying he'd never thought of that song as being particularly "sexy". In my mind, "sexy" isn't the whole message of the Song of Solomon.

The refrain "Patient lover be" reminds me of the "refrain" of the Song of Solomon: "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." This phrase is repeated 3 times in the 8 chapters of the Song of Solomon.

As a single gal, a huge part of my experience of the Song of Solomon is simply this: Patience.

In a book that describes so many things I cannot currently enjoy (taking the Song of Solomon as a love story and not a parable of God's love), I am sorely tempted to become angry - angry that God provides these good gifts and then doesn't share them with all of us equally. I long to be loved with the tenderness and devotion and persistance of the lover in Solomon. I long to be in a relationship where I can enjoy those "delights" the Song of Solomon describes (and yes, I hold fast to the belief that God has designed sex to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage). But that is not what God has for me, at least not right now, and I have no promise that He has those things in store for me.

So this book becomes a reminder that I must be patient.

A couple years ago I was spending the afternoon in a local park reading. I was listening to "Patient lover be", thinking about a guy I had a crush on, and daydreaming about the possibilities. The words of the song slowly began to register:

Don't love me until you see the whites of my eyes
They're so cloudy and red, it may take a while

Lie and wait. Anticipate.
Lie and wait. Anticipate.

Patient lover be.

I must be patient. I have a desire, a longing to experience these good gifts of God, but now is not the time. If I were dating someone this would take on a decided intensity. It is hard to love someone and to be loved - or at least it seems that way to me. There are many struggles in human relationships. And it is hard to be with someone you desire and say "No, be patient" to those desires.

And of course thinking about these things uncovers the idolatry in my heart - the idols of a physical relationship and of "belonging" to someone.

Sometimes I want these things so badly I can almost taste them. And I know this struggle doesn't end with marriage. Marriage does not equal contentment and fulfillment. That "perfect someone" isn't really "perfect" and I know from the testimony of married friends that you can still find yourself struggling with those same idols.

It's not that these aren't good things - the physical relationship & the "belonging" of marriage - but they are not God. They are not meant to be ultimately satisfying.

And so I must be patient. Whether I am single or in a relationship, I must be patient. I must be patient as I wait for these good gifts (if God chooses to give them to me) and struggle with the idolatry of my heart. And I must be patient as I wait for the day when I will no longer need to struggle, when I will be free from this sinful nature:

Romans 8:22-25
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Inaugural Blog

Phew! I've just spent the last I'd-rather-not-say-how-many hours playing with gif files and looking up hex codes and editing html & finally! I have a red blog :}.

This is my latest attempt at blogging. We'll see if it sticks.