Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I Got Mad Office Skillz

The problem is, no one recognizes it. 10 years of college, and in English, but no one seems to believe either 1) I can type (77 wpm, 100% accuracy, as of this morning), or 2) I'm actually interested in clerical work. Gah!! So today I did the application and testing to become a "Kelly girl"--of course, they don't call them that anymore, but still, a temporary office worker.

It's an option. So is staying home and making a baby. We'll see where we go from here.

Psalm 4--Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies

Again, a statement of David's surety in God's protection and blessing. In a day where we have explained away so many things, when "trusted" institutions let us down again and again, it is difficult to TRUST God. I really wonder if it was always so hard. All the bits and pieces of knowledge about the world--not even the controversial things like evolution and cosmology, but smaller things like easy electrical power, calculus, fast food, automatic tax withholding, etc. Does removing so many basic worries make it harder to trust God? Is that why the global church grows so dynamically in the developing countries?

Please, Lord, help me to trust in you, to place all my burdens in your hands and not try to bear them on my all-too-narrow shoulders.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Psalm 3--Trust in God under Adversity

A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.

Adversity hardly seems an adequate description of David's life at this point. But the extremity of conditions he faced reminds me that my own challenges are not beyond the realms of God's control. After all--imagining infinite power is hard for a finite being. But I can compare "my life now" to "David's life then" adn say that surely God can handle this, too. We don't often rest securely in Jesus' arms the way we should, but this makes it easier.

May my certainty in the power and protection of God grown and shield me form the anxieties the world lays at my doorstep.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Psalm 2--God's Anointed is Established as Ruler over the Nations

Our Lord is the ultimate power--he is the one who places men and women in authority and gives them power, nomatter how much they think they are self-made or self-important. I noticed the phrase "today I have begotten you." My bible (The HarperCollins Study Bible, NRSV) notes that the phrase was part of the adoption of kings, whereby they are made God's sons. But it also points back and ahead to the King of Kings, eternally begotten of the Father, who alone can embody the chronological paradox (at least in English) of "today I have begotten you."

Today may I have the humility to bow before the authorities set over me and so be conformed to the character of Christ, who died for my sins.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Am I Dreaming?

A dream job opened up yesterday, and I found out about it.

Okay, maybe it's not my ultimate dream job--which would basically involve doing nothing and getting paid ridiculous amounts of money.

But anyhow, A dream job. Back at my former university, working with several people I already know and like. Secretarial, desk job kinda stuff. With writing. And web development. No fries, deck scrubbing brushes, or screaming three year olds (at least, most of the time). So, I started working on my application, and discovered it needed three letters of recommendation.

Step one--email former advisor who now serves in the same office where this job is located. Attach resume. Nearly forget to hit send as I've already started step two.

Step two--look up chat buddy list (have I mentioned how much I adore Trillian?) and find my pal Jen who was a grad student with me at this university and whose husband still teaches there. Chat with her about letter, realize I haven't sent the email to advisor, click send. Get assurance she will write for me.

Step three--figure out which of about six people I want to write letter three. I put this on hold.

Step four--start filling out four page job application.

Meanwhile, Trillian tells me I have an email from the former advisor. He tells me that, not only is he willing to recommend me, he's already done so, having hand-delivered said letter about five minutes before this email...

Needless to say, the rest of the day I spent floating on a cloud. Hopefully this will come out well. Pray for me, readers! By the way, did get the third letter thing figured out, so no worries.

Psalm 1--The Two Ways

As I read this psalm (see for text), I'm thinking of a discussion a while back on The Bible Answer Man broadcast, especially concerning the teaching by Joel Osteen that has become so widespread. I think this psalm was briefly alluded to as one used by Osteen, and if so, I think he's using it wrongly. Here, the righteous prosper because their delight and meditation center on God's law--his word, his teachings. I don't recall scripture ever promising wealth--it warns, in fact, against the ways in which wealth can become a stumbling block. And wealth is not, I think, the measure of the prosperity referred to here. While it can mean financial success, the Latin base of the English word "prosperity" translates "to render fortunate." The alternative meaning is "to thrive."

This day, may I focus on thriving by and in my relationship with Jesus. May he protect and guide me away from the way of the wicked, which will perish. I give my financial successes over to him, that I may prosper more in knowing and doing the will of God.

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Project

Okay, so I haven't been blogging a lot lately, but I have been writing. I'm not sure if I'm journaling for myself or if I want to turn this into a book someday, so I'll start by posting things here and see what people think. Please! Give me some feedback on these things...

By way of explanation: I am trying to establish a more regular prayer life, and I'm uncomfortable with the gimme-gimme-I-want-a-pony kind of prayers that seem little more than a visit to a mall Santa. I have also found that my study of the Bible is helped when I slow down! Unfortunately, I read VERY quickly... so I've found that copying out the text helps me focus. I've copied all four gospels, and it really gave me some new insights. My current project is the Psalms, in order to help develop the habit of prayer. I got the idea from Eugene Peterson's introduction to the Psalms in his modern paraphrase of the Bible, The Message. To explain the connection, let me quote a passage from his introduction here:

Faced with the prospect of conversation with a holy God who speaks worlds into being, it is not surprising that we have trouble. We feel awkward and out of place: "I'm not good enough for this. I'll wait until I clean up my act and prove that I am a decent person." Or we excuse ourselves on the grounds that our vocabulary is inadequate: "Give me a few months--or years!--to practice prayers that are polished enough for such a sacred meeting. Then I won't feel so stuttery and ill at ease."

My usual response when presented with these difficulties is to put the Psalms in a person's hand and say, "Go home and pray these. You've got wrong ideas about prayer; the praying you find in these Psalms will dispel the wrong ideas and introduce you to the real thing." A common respnse of those who do what I ask is surprise--they don't expect this
kind of thing in the Bible. And then I express surprise at their surprise: "Did you think these would be the prayers of nice people? Did you think the psalmists' language would be polished and polite?"
So, what I've done in my journal is to copy each psalm (33 so far) by hand, and then to write a response to it. For the sake of not abusing copyright law more than I already have with that extended quote, I'm not going to copy the psalms themselves on the blog, but I will post my responses. I urge you to go look the psalms themselves up (preferably in a good modern translation). I'm using the NRSV in my copying, but there are a lot of good options out there. If you want help finding one, let me know. Of course, the King James Version of 1611 is available through Project Gutenberg, but while its language is majestic, its translation leaves something to be desired.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saying Goodbye

My great-aunt Max died of Alzheimer's a little over a week ago. Months ago, I said I would give her eulogy, because I wanted it done right, by someone who knew her, and Max was pretty much a family-only person. I wanted to post the eulogy for my family members, and I figured I'd better give a key as well for those of my readers who aren't part of the family. Max is the great-aunt, my grandmother's older sister who never married. At some point when my mom was a kid, she moved to the city and lived with my grandparents, and after their divorce, with Gran. Gran is, somewhat obviously, my grandmother. McGregor was Max's dog for the first 14 years of my life. Dan is my cousin, now almost 15. Adam is the youngest of my 4. So here's what I had to say:

How do you say goodbye to someone you’ve loved forever?

Max taught me so many things--how to knit, 3 different games of solitaire, how to do puzzles, crosswords, word searches. Some of my earliest memories have Max at least in the background. When I was little, and stayed with Gran nearly every Friday night, I slept in Max’s bed, with her and usually with McGregor. And every time, she would tell me bedtime stories. She was the recorder, the witness, the historian of this family for so long, that her stories were better than books, because I knew almost all the people in them. Even when I didn’t know the characters, I was still connected to them.

Max didn’t have it easy. She told Dan once, “I don’t know how to play, like most kids do.” She was in charge of her siblings, and I get the impression they were a handful. By the time I knew her, she was relatively quiet (at least for this bunch), and patient with us kids, even if she could be pretty imperious with the adults at times. She looked out for us, all the way down to little Adam. Living with Max can’t have always been easy. I know she got in the middle of things, and she said what she thought whether it was politic or not. But I think she meant it for the best. I think she wanted to protect us kids from having to grow up too soon. She wanted to make sure we were able to play and be kids in all those ways she didn’t know how.

I won’t talk about what the Alzheimer’s did to her, because today is not supposed to be about grief. Today is a celebration of victory over the enemy--over death. The night Max died, I emailed my bosses and my pastor to let them know what had happened. But I just can’t send an email without a subject line, and I probably spent as long on that as I did the entire message. I finally settled on “A Christian goes home.” For today is a memory of a life that touched ours all too briefly, and a celebration of her homecoming to the Lord.

And so I close with the words Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonika:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NRSV)