Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Spiritual Appetizer

I've just had conversations with three different people about our mutual struggle with consistently having "quiet times." Let's admit it: it's tough to spend time with someone you can't see, hear, and touch with physical eyes, ears, and hands. It's definitely a discipline to use our spiritual senses. In the physical realm, we get hungry when we don't eat. But in the spiritual realm, when we don't eat from God's Word we actually lose our appetite for it. (And we get hungrier and hungrier the more we eat! Crazy how that works.)

Inspired by our common struggle, I'd like to serve up a spiritual appetizer: a week of working out our appetites so we're hungrier for more of God's Word and presence! If you're in, here's the plan...

During the first five days of July (this Tuesday through Saturday), we will daily spend:

- 5 minutes in prayer
- 5 minutes reading Deuteronomy 30 and Psalm 16
- 5 minutes in silence (meditating on and listening to the Scriptures we just read)

How fun would it be to know a bunch of people are reading the very same chapters every day and meditating on their truths together--around the world!

Um, and yes. Five minutes in undistracted prayer or silence is HARD. Sounds pathetic, but it's true. So if five overwhelms you, start with two a day! Remember, this is intended to create a bigger appetite--not constipation. Hmmm. Bad analogy. But you get the idea. ;-)

Feel free to shoot me an email ( if you decide to join in; I'd love to be praying for each one in our hungry group. =)

Whatever your spiritual plan is this week, may your "soul be satisfied as with fat and rich food" (Psalm 63:5)!

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Is. 55:1

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I am such a girl.

(I was just plowing through old Microsoft Word files on my computer, and I stumbled upon this poem I wrote on March 11, 2006. If it weren't so funny, it'd be plain ol' embarassing...)


Hanging on a phone call

Well, I've done it again, Lord.

I'm hanging on a phone call,
Just hoping for a ring--
A little number all lit up on my cell phone screen.
To hear that voice that'll make my heart sing
Is a request that seems so small,
And for a moment I wonder: do You care at all?

Won't You move his heart tonight?
Granting him a dream
Of how happy his life would be if he were married to me;
A little piece of eternity
If he would just call me his wife.
O Lord--let him see the light!

Yes, the waiting's been long;
It shouldn't be this way.
(Profound commentary from a lump of clay.)
But You have never yet made one mistake,
So when the silence seems unending and wrong,
Move my heart (okay, and my phone) to ring out a song.


And over two years later, I can say with even more joy and conviction... He has never yet made one mistake. (And how thankful I am He has not given me who I thought I so desperately wanted and needed. He knows best!!)

And one more thing: Marriage to me will not be heaven. It may prepare a man for heaven, or make him long for heaven even more, but please know that the poem above was tongue-in-cheek. Humorous. For laughs. (I hate to think of the comments I'd get on this entry if you could leave 'em. =)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy birthday, dear Lisa!

You are to me a best friend, kindred spirit, confidante, role model, inspiration, and counselor who somehow juggles marriage, mommyhood, ministry, and musicianship (you are still my favorite singer of all time) with grace and faith and joy. I will never be able to comprehend what my life would have been like if our paths hadn't divinely crossed 13 years ago (when we were crazy college kids). You know my heart like few others.

Remind me again why you had to leave San Diego for Seattle? ;-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

A mess worth making


We’ll be sticking to our kitchen floor for weeks, I’m sure. How is it that sticky-sweet spills absolutely refuse soap-and-water and scrubbing?

I was simply trying to save a few bucks and make my own homemade iced mocha before heading back out into the sweltering heat. (It hit 115 two days ago.) In went the soymilk, the cinnamon, the chocolate. “On” went the blender, and just as I was about to add my oh-so-strong, French-pressed coffee, the little plastic cap on the blender dropped in—and the ingredients rocketed out. In one second flat, my kitchen was painted in chocolate-cinnamon soymilk. And so was I. My freshly ironed white tank became a tasty leopard print; chocolate dripped from my eyelashes, my hair, the ceiling, the just-washed dishes drying on the counter, the refrigerator, the floor, the rug, the cupboards, the pictures... you get the idea. Plastered.

I laughed out loud as I tackled the dripping disaster (before it could dry and cause more damage), but it was a mess I could have done without.

There is, however, a mess worth making…

When I was in my early twenties, I thought that relationships pleasing to God would be peaceful, low maintenance, and even somewhat (I hate to admit this) easy.

I have to laugh at myself for being so idealistic. I’m too strong a personality, too passionate, too full of sin to find anything “easy.” I learn slowly; I learn the hard way. I fight long and hard to get to a place of faith and understanding and acceptance and peace.

But fighting for right relationships is so worth it. It’s messy for sure, but it’s what Christ has called us to (read John 17 again!). He knows we naturally stink at relationships—be they friend, family, romantic, marriage, roommates, work, church—and He’s not surprised by our struggle. In fact, He knew from the beginning that we would make a mess of things, and He already had a beautiful clean-up plan in place.

It’s fascinating how we each react to the “cap dropping into the blender” and the consequent mess. Some of us walk away from it, leaving the chocolate to harden and creating an even bigger mess in the long run. Others may clean up the mess, but begrudgingly, resolving to never attempt an iced mocha again. Regardless of how we may react, one thing’s for sure: we all need a lot of help in this relationship area.

The past three years have felt like an intensive relationship boot camp for me. I love what I’ve been (slowly) learning. Aside from God’s Word, one of the greatest helps has been a little book called “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande. In it, Sande shares a wonderful checklist to “get the log out of your eye before taking the speck out of your brother’s.” Here’s a portion of it:

- What am I preoccupied with? (What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and/or the last thing at night?)
- How would I fill in this blank? “If only ______, then I would be happy, fulfilled and secure.”
- What do I want to preserve or avoid at any cost?
- Where do I put my trust?
- What do I fear?
- When a certain desire is not met, do I feel frustration, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, anger, or depression?
- Is there something I desire so much that I am willing to disappoint or hurt others in order to have it?
- Am I guilty of reckless words, falsehood, gossip, slander, or any other worthless talk?
- Have I tried to control others?
- Have I kept my word and fulfilled all of my responsibilities?
- Have I abused my authority?
- Have I respected those in authority over me?
- Have I treated others as I would want to be treated?
- Am I being motivated by lusts of the flesh, pride, love of money, fear of others, or wanting good things too much?

I’m convicted all over again. Lol. I’m so thankful, so very thankful, that God lavishes His grace on sinners like me (Ephesians 1:7-8)—and patiently teaches us what is best for us (Isaiah 48:17).

Today is another opportunity to die to ourselves so we can live Christ’s abundant life—another chance to exchange our “filthy rags” for God’s perfect clean-up solution.

And I may just attempt another iced mocha later today.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2 bananas and 1 ruby red grapefruit...

...blended with ice and soymilk is like summer in a cup! =)

And for summer soul refreshment, I'm reading Thomas a Kempis' "The Imitation of Christ." If you want some hearty conviction and a shove in the right direction, this is the book to read. But just a little at a time!

Excerpts from this morning's read:

"He is vain that putteth his trust in man, or creatures.

"Trust not in thine own knowledge, nor in the subtilty of any living creature; but rather in the grace of God, who helpeth the humble, and humbleth those that are proud.

"If there be any good in thee, believe that there is much more in others, that so thou mayest preserve humility within thee.

"It is not harmful unto thee to debase thyself under all men; but it is very injurious to thee to prefer thyself before any one man.

"The humble enjoy continual peace, but in the heart of the proud is envy, and frequent indignation.

"Whensoever a man desire anything inordinately, he becomes restless in himself."

Much easier to down the grapefruit smoothie. But so much better to chew on a Kempis. ;-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Planet Colleen (and gaining perspective)

I briefly considered writing a witty and colorful account of my past vacation week--spent at graduations, grad parties, and a baby shower; wining and dining in L.A.; going to Disneyland and Medieval Times; hosting a big brunch, dinner-and-a-movie, etc.

But today I returned home to news from my dear friends Brooks and Nina that my little "nephew" Beau (see pics below and on May 29 and April 6) is dangerously sick. This--after they just finished sharing their translation of the Scriptures with the Yembi-Yembis, a Papua New Guinea tribe they've lived with and served for five years now.

Then I just scrolled through my best friend's blog, looking at recent pictures from their home in East Asia, and I was refreshed (as always) by their passion for the lost and love for serving God and His people--no matter what the cost to them personally.

Then I read Philip Ewert's blog, with a poem dedicated to his wife Tera who died two years ago, as well as a gripping plea for people to pray for Africa, where he is now serving. (Did you know that close to 4 million people are starving there?)

And I guess I'm just heartsick over how little I care about what's going on in the world... and how quickly I get wrapped up in Planet Colleen.

We are just passing through, and these days aren't slowing down for our trivial pursuits and selfish worries. Perhaps the cure for today's selfishness and sin is tonight's prayers for another part of the world--that God's good news will reach people we've never met... and that those dear servants faithfully sharing this good news will be refreshed, protected, and blessed beyond their wildest dreams.

And then, Lord, give us the opportunity to boldly and lovingly share this good news with someone in our own little world.

Friday, June 13, 2008


(Written on January 25, 2007, after a season of sin that God mercifully redeemed me from!)

I have to believe You are sovereign over sin,
Lord of all of me: not just my strengths
But also my inherent weaknesses within.

For if what I’ve done and the woman I’ve lately become
Is beyond Your will, Your control—
I am lost, ruined, completely undone.

But if You’ve ordained every one of my days
And known my beginning to my end,
If you’ve planned a way for my escape…

Then I am loved past all comprehending,
Known only by knowing You, my Lord,
My Savior full of grace, grace unending!

Grace unheard of, love unmatched, mercy unrestrained:
Who am I? Unworthy, senseless beast
To look Love in the face and turn away!

Oh, what a God You are, to pull me from the pit
With a strong arm; wash me clean, clothe me,
And not just forgive my sin, but forget!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A bike and a bowl of cherries


Last night was our annual finale banquet for faculty and staff at ACA, so today felt like the official start of summer (although I'll happily be teaching summer school and freelance editing to fill my time). My roommates and I drove to Cherry Valley where a beautiful pool, cherry trees (I ate far too many cherries), and lounge chairs were the perfect prescription for tired teachers.

And if that didn't signal the beginning of summer break, my Target purchase certainly did. I've been on a bike hunt for awhile now (in an attempt to save on gas!), and I landed a gorgeous little red cruiser on sale. However, Belle didn't fit in my car--not even close, and I'm sure I entertained more than one person in the parking lot as I shoved and pushed and pulled that bike to no avail--so I left behind Ellie (the car) and biked all the way home.

I discovered new muscles in my legs. Or at least I don't think they were there before today...

So now I'm off to meet an old student at Starbucks. A tummy full of cherries, a sun-kissed face, and a smart little bike to boot. Ahhh... God gives days of refreshing.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


"But the LORD said to me, 'Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.'" Deuteronomy 3:2

I love how God points us to previous victories to help us in our present battles. "Remember, child?" He seems to whisper to our hearts. "Remember how you did it before? Remember how faithful I was to do what I promised?"

And then He calls us to move forward by faith. "Do not fear," He says over and over again. And why not? Because He is there, and just as He has been faithful in the past, He will be faithful in the present and the future.

Deuteronomy 3:22 continues, "You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you."

Perhaps today's fear is a small one. Or maybe your challenge is close to terrifying. Whatever the battle that creates an anxious heart in us, God is strong and faithful to fight for us. He has been for us all along; why would today be any different? Remember, dear friends, how He helped you win yesterday's battle... and then trust Him for victory in today's!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Adams, Woodruff, Willard, and Anonymous

“Great necessities call out great virtues.” –Abigail Adams

“Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.” –Anonymous

“Out of the strain of Doing,
Into the peace of the Done.” –Julie Louise Woodruff

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” –Frances Willard

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prayer is irksome.

If this isn't kindling for a long and loaded conversation, I don't know what is. My (wonderful!) small group has been reading and talking through C.S. Lewis' Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on prayer for the past few months, and it has been more than enlightening: it has been appropriately disturbing.

Here are a few excerpts from this week's reading...

"Well, let's now at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome. An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a crossword puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us.

"Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is it should have to be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created 'to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then? What can be done for--or what should be done with--a rose tree that dislikes producing roses? Surely it ought to want to?"


My thoughts later... (Not that we are in need of my puny little thoughts after Lewis' profoundity, but it has been so stimulating to discuss these things as a small group that I thought it'd be neat to pass along a bit of what I've been processing. I wish I could hear your thoughts and insights and responses as well.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thoughtful and tasty procrastination

C.S. Lewis
"God is the only comfort, he is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from...Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion."

Jonathan Edwards
"O sinner, can you give any reason why, since you have risen from your bed this morning, God has not stricken you dead?"

Sinclair Ferguson
"The holiness of God teaches us that there is only one way to deal with sin--radically, seriously, painfully, constantly. If you do not so live, you do not live in the presence of the Holy One of Israel."


I should be grading a pile of finals (it's our last week of school), so I'm gonna share a couple of my new favorite healthy recipes instead.

Amazing Sugarless Cookies
(I can't rememember where I found this one... but I love it! And it makes for a great breakfast food!)

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup nuts

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. (And by the way, these are amazing with iced coffee!)

Carob Treats
(compliments of my friend Dustin Ceithamer)

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan on the stovetop.
Add carob chips; stir until melted.
Add nuts and raisins to taste. (I personally love golden raisins, pecans, and sunflower seeds. And I add a lot of 'em, so my treats are chunky!)
Spoon onto a cookie sheet and top with drizzled honey.
Stick in freezer until set.

I make a batch of these weekly, keep 'em in the freezer, and eat one almost every day. =)

Chunky Slaw
(This salad and dressing were borne out of one of my playtimes in the kitchen. I love experimenting!)

Chop up and mix together:
red pear
bean sprouts
raisins (or craisins)

Toss with dressing:
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
lemon juice
liquid amino acids
freshly ground pepper
dash of salt
(Add ingredients to taste; my portions are always a little different every time I make this, but the combination has always been yummy! Just make sure you shake it up well before pouring.)