Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I deserved it.

I got my first ticket on Friday night. Excuse me: traffic citation. I was totally irritated about it, and I even laid awake a couple of nights after, stewing over the whole situation.

It's not that I didn't deserve a ticket. In fact, I'm about fourteen years overdue. I've broken the speed limit daily, run red lights, tailed cars, changed five lanes in two seconds, and rolled through too many stop signs to count (but what's that "California stop" named for anyway?). To beat all, when I was pulled over six months ago, the cop let me go despite three violations and my apparent disregard for protocol: to his utter amazement, I got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side to dig for my insurance card (which I never found). No joke, he was laughing by the time he walked away from my car. I think he was thinking: "Good Lord, thank you for my wife! I got off easy!"

So I knew my time was coming. It's just that I imagined that the ticket would be well justified… and not stupid. I mean, my record is clean and I’m pretty sweet, so a cop has to be justified to finally issue that very first ticket, right? Nope. Not in Lake Arrowhead. Little Snobville Cop was staked out for someone just like me on Friday night.

I was going to visit friends at their beautiful mountain cabin and couldn’t remember exactly which way to turn. Uncharacteristically, I made a full and complete stop at the stop sign, and then proceeded to turn right. That’s when Mr. Cocky Cop pulled behind me, turned on his lights, and then--once I'd parked--swaggered up to my driver’s window and stuck a blinding flashlight in my face. “There’s a sign that says, ‘No Right Turn,’ back there, ma’am, and you turned right,” he triumphantly told me. (It was as if he’d spent his whole day staked out at that corner, practicing that little speech. Despite his cool and cocky exterior, he was jumping for joy inside.)

Okay, so here’s the thing: I didn’t fight it. Didn’t make any excuses. Didn’t cry. And didn’t flirt. Yes, it was dusk, so I could have claimed the sign was illegible. Or I could have pointed to my clean record. Or explained that I was somewhat lost and needed directions. But I just signed that stupid yellow ticket and drove away wondering what that right-hand turn was going to cost me.

Call me dumb, but it was almost a relief to have the inevitable over with. Every day I drive, I deserve a ticket, so it was high time for me to pay.

And then, with a fresh perspective, I was reminded that I've been let off every ticket for every violation I've ever committed, from the day I was born to the day I will die. And I'm talking about my sin violations here. Every lie, selfish attitude, hideous thought, envious ambition, gossipping word, lustful impulse, and failure--every way I fall short of perfection and God's glory--is no longer written up against me... because of Jesus. Because of what He did for me.

He went into the warehouse packed wall-to-wall with my sin citations and paid for every one of them by giving up His life on the cross. I should have been on that cross paying, but He was my perfect substitute. I should spend eternity in hell, separated from the goodness of God, but I no longer have to pay--because Jesus did. On the road of life, I am now considered a perfect driver, because it's actually Jesus who's driving now. When Guilt Cop or Shame Police try to pull me over, Jesus leans out the driver's window and says, "She's with me."

And I'm free to go...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A brief breath

I've attended over twenty funerals in my time... grieved over the loss of some dear ones and ached over a couple of seemingly senseless tragedies. But I have yet to lose an immediate family member, and I cannot even begin to imagine losing a spouse. Those are griefs I know nothing of.

Phillip Ewert's young and dearly loved wife Tera died suddenly one year ago this month, and yet--in the midst of what must be unspeakable grief--he trusts and serves the Lord with all his heart. His blogs humble me and remind me that I'm living for another world. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18) Phillip parts the curtains of his suffering to give us a glimpse of glory...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Doubt, the dentist, and doorbells (cont.)

(Continued from yesterday)

I didn't budge from my bed: I was going to get a nap!! But a key jiggled in the doorknob, I heard a man yell "maintenance!", and in walked a very large stranger, who looked first in astonishment and then in utter embarrassment at the sight of me bundled up in bed. (The comedy is that I was angry and not scared.) Our brief conversation was awkward at best. He quickly left, and I never got to get my nap--probably because I was so angry that someone had ruined it in the first place. (Silly girl.)

Okay, back to doubt. Doubt loves to cast shadows on the very essence of who God is, keeping us from what our hearts were really made for in the first place: knowing and enjoying and glorifying God. Our doubt and unbelief cause apprehension (as if God were an insensitive dentist) and irritability (as if God were entering our homes uninvited, interrupting our plans). How He longs for us to know Him and believe Him for who He is, and trust that He knows what He’s doing.

Abraham of the Bible never ceases to inspire me in my faith. For all his faults, Abraham was characterized by his unwavering belief in God. In Romans 4, we find a stunning commentary on his life:

“In hope he believed against hope . . . He did not weaken in his faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead . . . No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” (English Standard Version)

Abraham knew God well and believed Him with all his might. He wasn’t apprehensive about what God might do to him, and he didn’t rage when God “invaded” the most important places of his life. He trusted God, “he did not weaken in his faith,” because he knew His God was the Almighty, Everlasting God.

God isn’t the dentist, and He sure isn’t a strange maintenance man barging into your home. He is trustworthy; He is perfect; He doesn’t make mistakes; He isn’t mean. He is the God who made the heavens and earth—and you and me. He deserves us being “fully convinced” about Him—and getting rid of that doubt, which will eventually (to return to my original analogy) take us captive in our own homes.

Tonight may we say with that old centurion, "I believe. Help me in my unbelief!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Doubt, the dentist, and doorbells

Doubt builds its fence around the property line of our weaknesses: Where our finite minds cannot fathom the infinite, Doubt creeps in the back door. Where our pride persuades us that we know better than God, Doubt rearranges the living room furniture. Where we have known bitter disappointment and hurt, Doubt hangs his pictures on the wall. Where we have failed and sinned until shame shuts us up in silence and isolates us, Doubt throws a party.

I had a dreaded dentist appointment today. Many of you may sympathize with me when I tell you that I get slightly panicked and mildly manic for the three days leading up to a trip to the dentist. (Months ago I even looked online for tips to "surviving a dentist appointment," but when I read "avoid drinking caffeine before your appointment as this will only increase your stress level," I realized there were greater evils than going to the dentist.)

Anyway, today I let a strange man tilt me upside down in a chair, shine an old yellowed light into my face, shoot my gums with a needle full of unidentified numbing potion, chisel and drill violently into two cavitied teeth, shove gauze and water and air hoses in and out of my mouth, and then send me on my way with a curt, "We'll clean your teeth next time."

I was happy to get home, and I had a couple of hours to take a much-needed nap before my evening plans. Ahhh, sleep. Haven't done that in awhile, and my bed quickly lulled me into a comatose state. And then, a loud knock at the door and the chiming of the doorbells . . .

*To Be Continued (heehee)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Sing to me..."

After a seven-year hiatus from taking voice lessons, I recently found an incredible voice teacher in Orange County and ventured to pursue my lifelong love once again. It's been a rewarding, fun, humbling, and thrilling process. I've discovered many bad habits formed in seven years' time and learned amazing new techniques for (hopefully) taking my voice to new levels. I'm practicing daily and get so excited when I grasp new concepts and hear my voice improve just a smidgeon. It's a tedious process, and I'll never be that great, but it sure is a stinking blast!

Yesterday morning I was reading in 1 Timothy, and a verse in chapter 6 captured me: "But as for you, O man of God . . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." I was fascinated by this idea of pursuing, especially pursuing love (I mean, don't you just have it or you don't?), so I decided to do some simple cross-referencing to find out more:

"Seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14
"So then let us pursue what makes for mutual upbuilding." Romans 14:19
"Pursue love..." 1 Corinthians 14:1
"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace..." 2 Timothy 2:22

I realized again that Spurgeon was right: we don't live in neutral. We're pursuing one thing or another--to one degree or another. I'm pursuing a better singing voice, and to do so I'm paying good money (which means cutting back in other areas), spending a lot of time and energy, changing bad habits and thought patterns, and saying "no" to other activities.

When I think of it in these terms, pursuing love doesn't seem so abstract anymore. To love people, I choose certain habits, thoughts, priorities, attitudes, and actions... and say "no" to others.

And I make these choices, not by my own power ('cause I'm pretty dang selfish on my own), but by the power of the Spirit of God who lives in me and "is able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

This pursuit takes work and time and diligence. It doesn't come naturally (at least not to me, it doesn't), and we shouldn't be surprised at how tough it is at times. But boy, is it worth it when you open your mouth and out pops a beautiful note you never thought you'd be able to sing.

Let's pursue loving the people around us today, sweet friends... and enjoy the beauty of the song that God writes with our hearts.

(The picture above is of me with a few college girls I get to hang out with every Friday night. These women are amazing and their lives belt out the most beautiful love songs...)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I don't lose glass slippers

It's past midnight, and I'm trying desperately to think my way through an overly fatigued haze in an effort to officially introduce my blog.

A blog ought to have a proper beginning, right? A "grand opening" or some such thing?

But you see, when midnight strikes, I don't lose glass slippers. I lose brain waves. All synapses stop synapsing and all activity comes to a screeching halt. (Much like a Southern California freeway.)

So I suppose I'll keep this simple and thank you for stopping by. I do hope this small corner of cyberspace proves to be an encouraging, thought-provoking, tear-jerking, laughter-inducing, faith-inspiring, and oft-visited one.

You, my friends, are the obvious inspiration for my blogging. Until we meet again (and before my coach turns back to a pumpkin)...

Good night.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I like the way this guy thinks.

"What if it were discovered that fetal tissue were a delicacy? Could you eat it?"

-Stanley Hauerwas' argument against fetal tissue experimentation, as quoted in WORLD Magazine, March 17, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007


To a man whose love, integrity, purpose, honor, humor, kindness, faithfulness, godliness, and genius have quietly influenced the lives of all around you... Happy 28th birthday! You make me feel like a princess, beloved sister, and treasured friend. You are the brother every girl hopes for.

Happy aging. (I can say that since I'm older.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Giving birth to me was the easy part. Mom's real labor started once I took my first breath. In fact, I've never figured out why my parents had five more kids after me. I should have been the permanent cure.

I wasn't trouble in the typical way. I was creative in my sin, strong willed, stubborn, and deceptive at a doctoral level. An artistic drama queen, I had more flair and manic tendencies than I knew what to do with, so even at a very young age, I found outlets (like coloring on the walls and stealing popsicles from the freezer). Even now I'm a tough case, and if it weren't for the grace and power and love of God, and His work in my life these many years, I'd be the poster child for sin.

Raising me must have been a perpetual boot camp for my mom. And at 31 years of age, I still give Mom plenty to pray about. It's no wonder then that more than one person has said she is the godliest woman they know. I suppose I can take a bit of credit for that. But I definitely can't take any credit for the fact that God gave me such a mother. That's grace. Mercy. Kindness. Blessing beyond measure...

One of my mom's friends said to her: "Jesus leaks out of you." I'd disagree. Jesus cascades out of my mom like a waterfall. And everyone around her, especially her family, gets gloriously soaking wet in the process.
I have been loved unconditionally, prayed for continually, and shown the precious reality of Christ. I am spoiled rotten. Happy mother's day to you, my dear Mommers.

Mr. J. D. Fish

Happy birthday to a friend who has outgiven, outloved, and outwitted me at every turn. These nine years of friendship have proven to me what I knew from the start: you are an amazing man, and I am blessed to call you my friend.