Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stained Glass Masquerade

Apparently the topic of my last few posts struck a chord. I have received emails from several people who feel the same way.

Interestingly enough, most of them are missionaries or former missionaries.

There is a Casting Crowns song out right now that speaks volumes. It's called "Stained Glass Masquerade", and is on their Lifesong album.

But these words hit me between the eyes. Here's an excerpt from the song:
Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

So what do you think is the answer? Why do we seem to struggle so much to find that genuine connection and transparent fellowship? Do you think it has to do with the individualism and busyness of the American culture? Or is it something else?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I had an overwhelming experience yesterday. And I'm still processing it. But I also have a sense of hope through this that I haven't had in a long time.

This has been a tough season of my life. We have been so isolated here in the ministry.

I've also been really questioning my call as a woman in ministry. Even though I know what God Himself has told me, I also hear the voice of leaders in our denomination telling me that I can't be who I am called to be. So I live under that constant tension, confusion and pressure.

Those who know me well will tell you I have not been myself for a while. So yesterday I decided to join a Bible Study group that was recommended by a local counselor. It meets on Tuesdays, which is my day off campus.

But what I found at this study caught me off guard. First of all, the teacher was this dear, funny lady who has been in full-time ministry for over 21 years. She also happens to be 84 years old, and talks about God in such a warm, personal way that it's as if He is standing next to her in the room.

The group ranged in age from early 20s through senior adults. But there was something unique about them from the moment I walked in. They were so REAL and transparent. Each lady was at a different point in her journey, but it was so clear that they were deeply in love with Christ and had a reverence for the Word of God.

They were also not afraid to speak openly and freely. There were questions asked and statements made that I had never heard in a Bible Study before. Raw, genuine questions like, "why does the Bible teach that premarital sex is wrong?"

I realized that most of these women had come to Christ later in lives and were free from the influences of church culture. Since they were at all different stages of their walk, and did not know yet how to play the Christian "game", there were no questions/comments that were off limits. It was SOOOO refreshing.

It also occurred to me that they had not yet been given the list of "THOU SHALT NOTS FOR WOMEN" that those of us who have grown up in church have lived under. Every single woman in that room was plugged into ministry of some sort, even though they were all wives and mothers and some were even fairly new believers. There was no wrestling with "Can I do this if I'm female?" or "should I wait until I'm more grounded in my faith?" There was this general attitude of "how can I keep from sharing what God has done in my life?!!!!"

We were studying the parable of the Good Samaritan. We had just passed the part where the man was beaten up, and began discussing the role of the thieves in the story. We all agreed that they represent satan, who has come to "steal, kill and to destroy." We discussed how satan's goal is to defeat us and keep us from fulfilling God's call on our life.

But the next part hit me between the eyes. The teacher said, "Did you notice where the next source of pain comes from, though? Who ignored the man when he was at his point of greatest need? How often do you see the Law and the Church abandoning the hurting Christian?"

That did it. I started to sob. Thirty seven years of deep wounds started to come out. That was me. I have felt such pain from my church and denomination.

I realized these women have a freedom in Christ that I don't. They don't even have a concept of what I mean when I speak of the bondage I feel as a woman in the church. I couldn't even really voice it. I just sobbed.

Do you know what they did next, though? They did not treat me like a freak for breaking down. They didn't scold me for being too emotional or for stating that church authorities can be hurtful and mean.

They surrounded me and laid hands on me and prayed for me.

I can't tell you what that was like.

I realized something yesterday. We didn't spend the majority of our time in there talking about the opinions of biblical authorities, or the accomplishments of noted personalities, or church doctrine, or programs, or church history, or philosophy.

We talked about God. We discussed how amazing, wonderful, loving, graceful, kind, patient, creative and personal He is. And when our eyes were looking up, rather than vertical, there was such freedom in Christ, not bondage.

I'm still not really sure what happened yesterday. My head is still spinning. But I want what those women have. And I want to find that freedom to be who I am called to be by my Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"You can't leave God out of prayer"

Last night as I was preparing dinner, Joshua came in with an intense look on his face. "Mommy," he said. "I think I'm going to put a note in my teacher's 'I have a problem' box."

I stopped cooking to give him my full attention. "One of our spelling words this week is 'pray' ", he explained, "and the definition that we were given for it is 'to hope very much.' That's just wrong. You can't leave God out of prayer."

Later in the evening, he decided to also write the publisher of his spelling book. So I helped him find the contact info and send an email.

Here's what he wrote:

Dear Houghton-Mifflin:

One of my spelling words this week is
"pray". Your Reading Vocabulary book says that it means "to hope very much."

That's wrong. To pray is to talk to God. Webster's dictionary even
defines it as "to talk to God."



Son, I have another definition for you. It's the word "conviction", and it means "to have the courage to stand up for what you believe."

We're proud of you, kiddo.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Middle School Woes

Anna started Middle School yesterday. And apparently the world also came to an end.

I put a very tearful kid to bed last night. It was hard to see her like that.

Anna is such an incredible daughter. She is sweet, charming, loving, and fun. She is very self-sufficient, with a creative flair (she made the cake in this picture all by herself) and has her Daddy's ability to stretch a dollar insanely far.

But two things she is not: a morning person, or a big fan of change. So a 6:30 bus, and 12 periods of classes have literally rocked her world.

I tried to encourage her by telling her my Middle School horror stories. After all....I survived it and am proof that there is life beyond 6th grade.

I remember my first day at McArthur Middle School in Jonesboro, AR. It was 7th grade, and we'd just come back to the States on furlough.

I realized immediately it was going to be a challenge. There should be boot camp for things like combination locks, opening milk cartons, and dealing with 8th grade boys who burp and throw spit balls.

But the most horrific moment came when I walked into English. From the back of the room Jim, EVIL Jim, stated, "aren't you that kid who wet her pants back in 3rd grade?"

YES, I wet my pants in 3rd grade. It was our last furlough, and my first day EVER in public school. The math teacher was a total meanie who warned us that we had better not interrupt her teaching with any trivia. When I realized I needed to go to the restroom, I was too afraid to raise my hand. I just sat there, frozen, as the yellow puddle under my chair grew bigger and bigger.

So that lovely announcement from Jim kicked off my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad first day in Middle School. And I came out of it still breathing, and even managed to make some friends in the process.

Do any of you have some words of wisdom or stories that you could share with Anna of how you survived the "tween" years?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Getting Older

This month my big brother and my supervisor both turn 40. It's made me very conscious of how suddenly we've arrived at "middle age." So in honor of Mark and Jerome, here's a little article taken from Enjoy!


1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. And when God, who created the entire universe with all of its glories, decides to deliver a message to humanity, He WILL NOT use, as His messenger, a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle.

6. You should not confuse your career with your life.

7. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

8. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.

9. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

10. Never lick a steak knife.

11. Take out the fortune before you eat the cookie.

12. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

13. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

14. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

15. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

16. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

17. The main accomplishment of almost all organized protests is to annoy people who are not in them.

18. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

19. Your friends love you anyway.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Walking to the Sky

There's a sculpture on our campus that just intrigues me. You can read more about it here.

What story in the Bible does it remind you of? It amazes me how civilization never learns. We still believe that we our own accomplishments will be our salvation.

Yesterday was international orientation. It was their first day on campus. I watched as a mosaic of people, from various races and multiple nations, paused at the base of the sculpture to look up into the sky.

I wondered what each of their stories were. I wanted to ask, "What are you really searching for? Do you know HIM--the One?"

Pray for our campus as we get ready to begin a new year. Once again, we have the opportunity to impact the world from our little base in Oakland. Pray that we would make the most of every opportunity.

I think of the words of David and of the people of Israel:

1Ch 16:23-35
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place.

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the LORD in holy array.

Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; And let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."

Let the sea roar, and all it contains; Let the field exult, and all that is in it.

Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD; For He is coming to judge the earth.

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Then say, "Save us, O God of our salvation, And gather us and deliver us from the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name, And glory in Your praise."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I've been tagged

I have been tagged by both Tim Sweatman and Rob Slagle, so I guess I had better respond.

I had recently sworn off books, having assumed I fulfilled my quota of them last year. Somewhere between McManus and Sproul I think I blew a fuse, so had gone back to my standard reading level--things like the "Adventures of Calvin and Hobbes" and Strongbad's emails.

But here goes nothing.

1. One book that changed your life: It's really a bible study rather than a book, but it was the Covenant study by Kay Arthur. Not only did the topic significantly impact me, but it was also where I learned the inductive Bible study method. Another great Bible Study that has recently impacted me is "Believing God" by Beth Moore.
One book that influenced me at a crucial time in my life was "The Sacred Romance" by Curtis and Eldredge.
2. One book that you've read more than once: "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" by W. Philip Keller. I love anything by him. Another one of his that I've read multiple times is "What is the Father Like?" One I really want is "Rabboni: Which is to say, Master."
3. One book that you'd want on a desert island: "Primitive Living, Self-Sufficiency, and Survival Skills: A Field Guide to Primitive Living Skills"
by Thomas J. Elpel
4. One book that made you laugh: "The #1 Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander Mcall Smith. Not only is it true to African culture, it's just cute.
5. One book that made you cry: "A Child Named 'It'" by Dave Pelzer. In some ways I wish it had never been written. But it is the reality of child abuse.
6. One book that you wish you had written: "The Kneeling Christian" by an unknown Christian
7. One book you wish had never been written: "101 Uses for a Dead Cat" by Simon Bond
8. One book that you are currently reading: Just finished "Israel, My Beloved" by Kay Arthur, and now reading "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
9. One book that you've been meaning to read: "Rees Howells, Intercessor" by Norman Grubb.

I tag James Touchton, Kelly Reed and Jerome Stockert.

Road Trip---Need Your Help

One of the pivotal events in our ministry each year has been the Passion conference which is held during the Winter break. Not only has it had a huge impact on our students, but has shaped our entire ministry.

The past two years it has been held in Nashville, and we've taken 12 and 21 students respectively. Local churches there in Tennessee have been kind enough to let our group sleep in their gym or family life center, which has enabled us to keep the price for students at an affordable rate.

But this year Passion moved to Atlanta! So we are needing to find a place to stay on the way down (since it will be an 11+ hour trip for us) and church in that area who would be willing to let us stay in their facilities. We may possibly be combining with the Penn State group as well, and we'll probably bring around 20 students each.

All we really need are shower/bathroom facilities and a floor to crash on. If you know of anyone who might can help us, then please let us know ASAP.

Our housing needs for P07:

Two nights stay in a gym/family life center with showers - somewhere along the I-77 corridor in North Carolina, or anywhere from Winston/Salem to Charlotte (on the way to Atlanta).
1st night we would arrive in the evening of 12/31 and depart the morning of 1/1
2nd night we would arrive in the late afternoon/evening of 1/4 and depart the morning of 1/5

Three nights stay in a gym/family life center with showers - anywhere in the Atlanta area - preferably near the Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta
We would be arriving in the afternoon of 1/1, and departing the morning of 1/4

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I've been listening to Dave Hunt's "Until That Day" cd, and there is a song on it that resonates with me.

It's called "Lonely", and the words are as follows.
Your stars above me
Reach out to hold me
Your waves are singing me to sleep
And in the stillness, you say you
love me
Within the whispers of your breeze.

But I'm so lonely, I'm so lonely, I'm so lonely

I know you're with me
You never leave me
I know you're right here by my
I know what I know
Should make me happy
But I can't convince
myself tonight

'Cause I'm so lonely, I'm so lonely, I'm so

Why is it that we can have a deep, intimate relationship with God, and yet still feel so lonely? Why--if God is the "fullness of Him who fills everything in every way" do we still need human connection so much?

Why is it so difficult to make those true friendships, especially in Christian circles? It seems like we can be surrounded by people, yet never get past the plastic facades. Even in family relationships, there are barriers to intimacy.

Is it just that we are a broken people, and will never be whole until we get to heaven? Is it just that we are "not of this world", and that need for community will never be satisfied until we are with Him? Why do we still struggle so much with loneliness........?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sad Loss for Arkansas

My mom called today to tell me that KATV Sports Director Paul Eels was killed in a car accident Monday night.

I had the privilege of knowing Paul for a Summer, and he was as genuine in person as he comes across on television.

I did my internship at Channel 7 (KATV) in Little Rock while I was in college. I learned quickly what a hedonistic and brutal world broadcasting can be.

But Paul was always cheerful, and a constant encourager. He never took himself too seriously, and did not have the big head you would expect someone known as the "Voice of the Razorbacks" to display.

He was great to us interns--and was incredibly patient, even when we messed up. I remember one night I had been cussed out by a producer for a glitch in the teleprompter that night. I was close to tears, and very much aware of my status as "bottom of the food chain." Paul put a very fatherly hand on my shoulder, and told me not to let it get to me. Ironically, HE was the one who my mistake had hurt--it occurred during the sports segment.

I did not realize that he was a Christian until recently, just because we never talked about it. But Jeff, a sports reporter under Paul, was open about his faith, and there was a stark contrast between the spirit of the sports department and the rest of the station.

It was so cool to discover that Paul had also loved the Lord. It just read this article from "Spirit" magazine, and was excited to hear from others how he has been a key player in planting New Life Church, which has multiple campuses in the Little Rock area.

My prayers are with his family, and I hurt for them. Arkansas lost a very kind, fun and noble man this week. TOUCHDOWN ARKANSAS!!!

Tears for Asia

This story on the IMB website really touched my heart. It's exciting to hear about leaders whose hearts are tender enough to cry for the nations.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm tired of criticism, argument, and negativity within our denomination.

However, this stuff pumps me up and gets me excited about getting back in the trenches. I love the testimonies from the field--stories of how God is at work in our leadership, and how we are unified in a passion to reach the lost.

I'm ready to hear the praises. Do you have any stories of how God has worked where you are, or spoken into your life recently? Let's celebrate the good things He has done.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dare to Be a Daniel--Great Resource for Kids!

There is a great resource that has recently been put out by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It is called Dare to Be a Daniel and is a great way for teaching kids how to share their faith.

It can be used by the child as an online study, or parents can order a free kit to use at home. We are doing both.

Not only does it teach key scriptures and principles of evangelism, it also builds confidence, and there is even an online message board where kids can share with one another.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Update from Julianna

Hey, everybody! Thanks for your prayers for my family. We got a response from one church, who can help us with a one-time gift. We appreciate that!

But we've got a lot of ground to cover here in Philly, so please keep praying for God to provide for us.

Our goal is to eventually have the majority of financial support throughout our region coming from local churches and individuals.

As all of our ministries throughout Pennsylvania grow, and as our students continue to catch a vision for what we are doing, that will naturally develop. Our stronger, more established campus ministries are also getting to a point where they can partner with and support the work on new campuses.

But in the interim period, we are going to need some short-term support from individuals and churches outside of our region.

One cool thing about our Pennsylvania/South Jersey team is that we really want our ministries to reflect the culture that we live and work in. That means we want our team to be as diverse as the society around us. For example, the Pittsburgh team should be a cross-section of the Pittsburgh culture, the Philly team a cross-section of the Philly culture, etc.

We are getting there, but also have a ways to go. Half of our campus ministry team in PA/SJ are either native to Pennsylvania, or went to college here and were active in our campus ministries as students. Twelve of our 34 staff members were students in one of our ministries while in college.

We also have an international component to our ministries, and want to cultivate that even more. We have staff who grew up in Russia, Moldova, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, Canada, Turkey and the foreign states of Alaska, North Dakota and Texas. : )

Please continue to pray for collegiate ministry in Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Pray especially that God would continue to call out workers, and supporters to provide for them. The harvest here is plentiful, and there are doors open all around us. But we need more laborers and more ministry partners.