Tuesday Ten: Things I’d Like To Learn

1. How to play the guitar

2. Italian

3. How to raise saltwater fish

4. How to run a race (I’m working on it)

5. How to bake sweet potato fries without burning them

6. How to knit without making 5,000 mistakes

7. How to straighten my hair like Cindy at Shine does

8. How to gracefully stop my bike

9. How to cash a book advance check (ha…)

10. How to say witty things when they count and not just think of them much later

John 9: The Question

(There are a lot of reasons I have this blog, but one of the main reasons is that it is an opportunity to improve my writing skills. I try to use a variety of different styles and topics and formats. I’ve not done a series blog yet. I decided to use one of my very favorite passages of Scripture and create a four part post about it. As always, thanks for reading.)

This is the first of a four part post on John 9.

John 9:1-7

The disciples are walking with Jesus. The blind man is minding his own business. All of a sudden the disciples
turn the blind man into a group object lesson.

“Hey, Jesus. Here’s a blind guy! Did his parents sin or did he sin?”

It’s so interesting to me that this is the question. It really causes me to have a lot more questions:

1. He was born blind, right? So how could it be because of his sin? Because of the sin that God knew would be in his life? That makes my head hurt.
2. It’s completely not fair that he would be punished for his parents’ sins, right? (I know, it’s a cultural belief. I’m just sayin’.)
3. How do the disciples know anything about him in the first place? Where do they get off using him as an example?
4. What are they trying to prove? What’s the point of their whole discussion?

Of course, it’s a cultural question. The common belief is that bad things happen to bad people. You are blind? It must be someone’s punishment! Jesus’ response is counter-cultural: No one is being punished. “He was born blind so God’s works could be revealed in him.”

This is quite possibly my very least favorite answer given by Jesus anywhere in Scripture.

What? This man has spent his entire life without his sight to give God glory?

Just like I wrestled with Soren Kierkegaard about the justness of God “using” Isaac and creating intense agony in Father Abraham’s heart in Genesis 22, I wrestle with this. It just doesn’t seem fair. This man has spent his whole blind just so that Jesus could heal him today?

One of the things I decided early in my walk with Christ was that I trust God to always be just. I don’t have to understand God’s ways, I don’t have to always have an answer for what’s happening, but I can always trust that whatever God is doing is right.

Are there situations or conditions in my life, in the lives of people I love that exist so that God can be glorified? I don’t know, but I think so.

“…Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:7-10

Could it be that sometimes, God is glorified when we are weak? Yes.

Could it be that God can take a “bad” situation and do something amazing? Yes.

Have I seen this in my life? For sure. I have had dark moments, struggled with hard scenarios and lived with all kinds of pain–and I look back at them now and I can see clearly how God moved and redeemed.

For now, this man is the subject of discussion. In a moment, his life will be changed forever.

Wednesday: “John 9: The Miracle.”

Not The Only Solution

Last night, I was glancing through my twitter stream and I saw a particular blog post was being re-tweeted at a high frequency. The author was @hughlh (known in real life as Hugh Hollowell) and he tweets things like:

To look at my twitter followers, you would think I was Presbyterian. (Not that there is anything wrong with that…)

Anyway, I was wondering what was up with all the re-tweeting, so I clicked on the link in another friend’s tweet. The post on his site is called “What Can The Church Do To Eliminate Homelessness?” and you should go read it now. It struck a chord with me.

The post ends this way:

The question we really want to ask, but nobody has the guts, the cajones, or the simple intestinal fortitude to ask is

“How can the church end homelessness – and yet keep all of this? “


We can’t.

That’s a hard truth for me to swallow.

As a Church, we spend a lot of time asking questions like how can we end homelessness/the AIDS epidemic/the war in Darfur/child slavery/the exploitation of women?
But the truth is, at the end of our question, there’s always an implied “…and yet keep all of this?” Of course we want social justice! Of course we want to end poverty! Of course we care about widows and orphans–as long as it doesn’t mean giving up all the justice, riches and family we enjoy!
I’m just as guilty. I wrote the other day about how I’m throwing up my hands about gas prices. A woman stood in front of me needing gas. I mentioned that our church sometimes is able to help people in need, but what about me personally? Yes, sometimes I do personally help the people I meet in or out of the church who need help. Depending on the situation, I’ve shared food, items or cash with people in need–and Jason and I do give to the church’s benevolence fund.
If I had cash to pay our utility bill in my purse and a young mother came in needing cash to pay her utility bill, I would feel bad for her and I would pray for her and I would give her a list of resources and places to call, but I won’t go pay her utility bill instead. I want to help her, but not at such a great personal cost. Jason and I don’t make enough money to pay two utility bills and if I pay hers instead of ours, I’ll be the one calling the places on that resource list.

Tomorrow, the Youth Group will teach the Kids’ Club children the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 (Luke 9:10-17). The Disciples were perfectly happy to send the crowd away when they got hungry. Jesus didn’t allow for that. The Disciples were hungry themselves and didn’t want to be bothered by the hunger and needs of the masses. But Jesus had another way: “You give them something to eat,” He commanded/suggested.
So, I ended my last entry this way: “I’m praying for people who are going without today because they have no choice. It’s the only solution I have right now.”

It should read: “…It’s the only solution I’m personally willing to allow for right now.” Because it’s not the only solution and it’s not the solution to which Jesus calls the Church or the Disciples.

Fuelin’ Up

As I got out of my car, I groaned and the guy fueling up on the other side of the gas pump smirked. “It hurts, doesn’t it?” He asked.

I mentally calculated how much a full tank of gas was going to cost at $3.65 a gallon. I traded complaints with the guy on the other side, who informed me that filling up his huge pick up truck was going to cost close to $100.
I sighed as I watched the number climb. I resisted the urge to stop the pump, because I knew I needed the gas and if I didn’t fill it up today, I’d be back soon enough to top off. I remembered being in college in Evansville and driving to Henderson for gas because it was only 88 cents a gallon.
It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? Gas is so expensive. /complaining
I’m not feeling political about the price of gas. However, I will say this:
1. The rising cost sure is making me conserve gas more. The higher the number at the pump, the more efficient I become with my errands and trips. For example, I used to head to Evansville once a week or so. Now I evaluate the importance of the trip before I go.
2. I try to buy all of my gas at the nearby CountryMark station. CountryMark uses American refined oil from the Illinois basin–so it’s local, even.
But here’s the thing: as much as I complain? I’m still able to go to the gas station and fill up my car whenever I need to do it. I may do my best to conserve the gas in my tank, but if I need to go somewhere–work, the doctor, coffee with a friend in Evansville…I’m going, and if I don’t have enough gas to get there, I’ll stop on the way. This won’t be true for much longer if gas continues to climb–there will come a point where I just can’t afford a full tank whenever I need it. For some people, that’s a reality of right now.
“I just need to get my mom to Evansville for her doctor’s appointment,” the young lady told me in the church fellowship hall the other day. “She has to go. I’ve been everywhere, no one has funds.” Our church does try to meet needs like this–we have a very limited amount of funds for this. It used to be that we could give someone a $20 gas voucher for a local gas station and that would be a lot of gas…not so much now that gas is $3.73/gallon (today’s price in Henderson).
I feel much concern for the people that are hurt most by the rising gas prices–there are people who no matter how important their errands and trips are, they cannot afford it. And I run into them every day and their stories are difficult. And it’s hitting more places than the gas station–been to the grocery store lately?
I’m praying for people who are going without today because they have no choice. It’s the only solution I have right now.

Saturday Morning

I’m feeling a lot of things this morning:

(let’s get the less wonderful ones out of the way first)

Disappointment: The child tried to pull a fast one last night. Typical 12 year old kid stuff, but still disappointing. His parents are pretty sharp however and we figured it out kind of quickly. He gets to do some chores this morning and we get to sit back and watch him.

Hurt: About a situation that is out of my control.

Concern: For people in my life who are struggling with health issues or grief issues or just all the pain that sometimes rains down.

(and now the upswing)

Successful: I survived another April Fool’s Day without falling for the usual pranks and trickery (sorry to my friend Melissa who posted that she’s pregnant and I immediately replied that I don’t believe anything posted on April 1 and then accidentally led all of her friends in a conspiracy against her….and she’s actually going to have a baby in November.)

Excitement: About a new (extra-curricular) project/team that I joined this week. There are some really amazing possibilities that go along with it and it will challenge me as a leader and as a writer. More details about this in the next week, I hope!

Nervous: The above project will challenge me in some other ways too, and I’m anxious about whether or not I’ll be able to meet those challenges (but hopeful that I will)..

Peace: It’s Spring Break and I’m taking some time off.

Joy: About the quiet, beautiful, unplanned day ahead. Nothing I need to accomplish. No chores that need to be done (by me, anyway).

Hopeful: That even though I’m pretty inadequate, God still calls me to do some really unbelievable things.

Grateful: For my family and the wonderful friends and supporters God places in my life.



One of my very favorite hymns (if not my very favorite), is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The tune is beautiful and the words hit me where I live. Especially:

“…let that grace now like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God, I love…”

I’m also “prone to wander.” It’s restlessness…selfishness…immaturity.

I’m not a runner–I don’t run away from things in my life. Physically, geographically, when facing problem, I’m pretty steady. This wandering? It happens in my heart. I’m like the author of the song–I’m prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.”

The God I have followed on so many amazing, miraculous, adventurous paths…

The God who has blessed me beyond measure with love and friends and comforts…

The God who has called me and kept me…

The God who loves me even though I’m so very often unloveable…

I’m grateful that God finds me even in my wandering. Even when I’m the one who is heading everywhere but on the path God has called me to follow. This holy season is a time that I am reminded of my wandering heart and a time when I’m called from restlessness and distraction and back into the footsteps of the one who is leading me, despite my best efforts to take the long way.

Sufjan Stevens sings one of my very favorite versions of Come Thou Fount:


I’m not entirely sure how I got involved…well, yes I am.

It started with a phone call in my office early last fall. A man I respect, one who sat in on the second job interview I did with Presbyterian Church nearly eleven years ago, was on the other end of the line.

“Ever hear of Big Brothers, Big Sisters?” He asked. “I think we can do it here. Will you help us?”

Mercy, I was already too busy. But it nagged at me.

So I went to the first informational meeting, attended by about 30 community leaders. Mostly, I went to support the man who had called me…but there was an exciting energy in the room, facts and figures were tossed around, the plan was proposed, I was intrigued.

And then I missed the organizational meeting–I was on vacation.

Another friend who was interested in the program called me, “I understand if you’re too busy. I get it that you have so much going on, but just in case you’re still interested, the next meeting is…” I went to that one. And another one. And then they put me in charge of recruiting volunteers. And I attended more meetings.

With an amazing group of people who are committed to seeing something change in Henderson…

  • A town that leads the state (we’re #1!) in Juvenile petitions.
  • A town with a frightening drop out rate.
  • A town that has an undeniable drug problem among adults and our youth.
  • A town that needs a proven program for our young people BEFORE they get arrested, addicted, written off.

I’ve seen lots of groups of people who were going to change things here come and go. I’ve participated in seminars attempting to address this problem. I’ve read the reports, sat with people who shook their heads and lamented the situation, I’ve heard many solutions pitched.

None of them are like this. Most of those groups never made it out of the first set of meetings. Either the participants couldn’t agree on the problem…or the solution…or the method…or the hoped-for outcome.

This group–the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Henderson County advisory board? It’s different.

When we pitched the program to the City Commission (in hopes of receiving their support, both moral and financial) the other night, one of the commissioners asked, “How long have you been organized?”

“Since October?” our spokeswoman Darlene Marshall-Ware looked at the other 10 of us board members seated behind her. We nodded–that sounds about right.

“You’ve done all of this in less than a year?” He asked. (Actually, less than six months if you’re doing the math.)

It has been amazing to be even a small part of this group that will bring such an amazing program to Henderson County. We have raised almost $30,000 in cash and $16,000 in kind, are in the process of hiring a part-time program director and will begin matching Bigs and Littles this Summer so that the program can begin running with the 2011-2012 school year. Grant writing and presentations to groups who can support us continue.

There are about 7,200 students in Henderson County between the ages of 5 and 18. If even just 10% of those kids need a mentor (and lets face it, the number’s bound to be a lot higher), that’s 720 kids who need 720 mentors.

Bottom line? There’s a lot of work to do. I’m convinced I’m with the right group to get it done.

“There is hope, ” Darlene told the commissioners. “We are part of the solution. We will not rest until every child in Henderson-Henderson County is successful.”

I love this team and I’m proud of us. There will be more to this story, for sure…

Gleaner Article about our visit to Henderson Fiscal Court

Gleaner Article about our visit to the City Commission