Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My mother sent me a link to "What's Your Theological Worldview?" at Quizfarm. She got it off of somebody's blog. Oh Carol. She's really getting into this blogging thing.

It told me . . .

"You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this."

Emergent/Postmodern 79%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 61%
Classical Liberal 61%
Neo orthodox 57%
Roman Catholic 54%
Modern Liberal 46%
Charismatic/Pentecostal 39%
Reformed Evangelical 32%
Fundamentalist 0%

I'm in Nashville!!!

I have a beautiful friend named Lynnette who married a fabulous man who, as a gift to his wife, flew me out to visit her and bought us tickets to see Alanis Morisette live and in person.

Yes, I'm having a heart attack.

Nashville, Lynnette, and Alanis. Whoa. I'm a little overwhelmed.

I flew in yesterday afternoon and the three of us had dinner at the old Union Station at a restaurant called the Flying Saucer. Today I slept in, ate lunch with Lynnette at a sports bar with excellent tuna wraps, and am finally managing to do something productive like check email and write on my blog.

Probably around four I will begin taking deep breaths, apply make-up and do a few vocal warm-ups to be sure I'm ready to sing along tonight.

Oh my gosh, I've never been to a real concert before. Never seen anyone "big" live before. I mean I've seen some smaller performances and some Christian singers in the 90s, and of course the David Crowder Band, but I've never seen anyone like this. No Counting Crows concerts, U2, Sinead, Dave Matthews, no one like this. I can't wait. This is surreal. I'm finally doing something cool.

Way to go Ann. Your baby sister starting seeing the aforementioned bands in high school.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

1900 miles later, I find myself in Austin again.

St. Joe was packed with fun things to do: Alex's wedding, My father's 60th birthday, Amy successfully finishing the boards, working Nancy and Carol's third annual garage sale and preaching at WPBC. Not to mention dominoes with grandma, movies with mom, eating at Mimi's with a fabulously cute waitress named Emily Jane, shopping excursions, eating out all the time and visiting old friends and family.

Thank you St. Jo Mo for another memorable trip.

The only unfortunate part of the vacation was finding a letter in my bedroom announcing that the organization who lent me money in college have finally figured out that I've graduated. Needless to say, they want their money back. Let me just add that to my list of bills. No problem. I'm sure I'll find a high paying job with benefits and I'll be able to pay you back very quickly and efficiently.

Such is life. The beauty and the bills. Oh well, on I go.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Need a preacher, teacher, pastor or educator? Here's my resume!

To Whom It May Concern:

In the interest of investigating ministry opportunities throughout the nation, I am submitting my résumé to colleagues, friends and family. Although résumés are effective in communicating facts concerning a person’s history, education and gifts, they offer little in the category of personality. Please allow me a moment to share with you my story.

The oldest of three girls, I grew to be articulate and responsible. Although my younger sisters may have called me “bossy” growing up, this attribute proved as asset later in life as I am able to take charge of situations where leadership is lacking, and assess where action needs to be taken. I was raised in a northern Missouri town affectionately called St. Jo Mo. Most of my family still resides in Missouri, however, the rest of us located in assorted places from Pennsylvania to Hawaii to Minnesota to Texas. Although I am a single adult, my family remains my most treasured relationship. In addition, my community across the U.S. has become my family.

As the daughter of a director, I grew up in the theatre and have a strong appreciation for the arts; I love discovering God’s truth in the artistic creations of all people. As a writer, preacher, teacher and singer, my gifts lie in education and creative communication: this is my passion. From Godspell to Les Misérables, from the David Crowder Band to Sinéad O’Conner, from Veggie Tales to the Simpson’s, my Christian worldview interacts with culture on many levels as I learn about God through a multitude of mediums. Consequently, my goal is to find a ministry position where my education, personality, spiritual gifts, and personal skills complement the vision of an existing church striving to claim truth where we find it in our world today.

From a very young age, my life has been dedicated to ministry both inside and out of church buildings. From board rooms to coffee shops, to theatres and halfway houses, all ground is sacred and its people worthy of redemption. My theology of hope and social justice shapes my life as I strive to play my part in ushering in the Kingdom of God. Can I detail completely what that looks like, or how it is accomplished? No. But through the Bible, church tradition and our personal experiences, I believe we can begin to discern what God’s Kingdom means. When Christians seek to love God and our neighbors as Christ commissioned us in each of the four gospels, we begin to glimpse that Kingdom.

My experience and insight can be strong allies to the ministry of any church. I relate well to people outside the Christian tradition, and seek to move believers into a deeper faith spiritually, emotionally and socially. My enthusiasm for worship and liturgy enables me to inspire praise of God through song, message, images and silence.

Unique experiences and results include:
 Gaining recognition for comprehensive knowledge of the postmodern generations and their viewpoints, and how they impact perspectives on Faith.
 Studying abroad and volunteering in Montpellier, France and Arad, Israel, as well as Mexico, England, Morocco, Turkey, India, Thailand and China.
 Engaging those involved in ministry toward deeper faith and spiritual maturity through sound, relevant teaching and relationship building.

I will work hard to achieve God’s desired results and look forward to discussing how I can contribute to your ministry’s future success. I can be reached at the above e-mail address or phone number. Thank you.

Master of Divinity: Theology
• University Ministerial Scholar: awarded 100% tuition scholarship for academic and ministerial excellence.
• Successfully completed Classes.
o Preaching I & II
o Texts and Communication
o Christian Texts and Traditions I-III (Historical Theology)
o Christian Scriptures I-IV (Old and New Testaments)
o Life and Work of the Pastor
o Clinical Pastoral Orientation (Pastoral Care in Hospitals)
o Christian Ministry (Pastoral Care and Counseling)
o Christian World Mission
o Religion and Worldview (traveled to England, Turkey, Morocco, India, Thailand and China)
o Studies in 20th Century Theology: Evangelical Theology
o Theological Capstone: Faith and the Arts
o Christian Worship
o Greek
o Hebrew
o Spiritual Formations

WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE – Liberty, Missouri 2000
Bachelor of Arts: Dual Majors in English and Religion
Magna Cum Laude
• Studied and volunteered in Montpellier, France for a semester with the Partnership for Service Learning.
• Studied Archaeology in Israel for a semester with Missouri Western State College and Baylor University.
• Awarded Outstanding English Major.
• Awarded Outstanding Religion Major.
• Rewarded Paul Lees Sturgis Scholarship.
• Rewarded F. Gano Chance Memorial Scholarship.

Pastoral Intern
• Completed one semester theological education by studying under Rev. Dorisanne Cooper at a local Waco congregation. Lakeshore exists to reach forward thinking adults and families interested in embodying their philosophy of Christianity both spiritually and socially in our complex world.

MOSAIC CHURCH – Austin, Texas 2004 – Present
Lay Preacher and Teacher
• Served as preacher in absence of Pastor Don Vanderslice.
• Created and facilitated small discussion groups on Genesis and Exodus.
• Worked with a church committee to develop a multi-sensory four story worship “labyrinth.”
• Designed and led worship in absence of worship leader Seth Woods.
• Organized volunteer network for church

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH – Austin, Texas 2005
Guest Preacher
• Preached by invitation, Maundy Thursday Holy Week Luncheon Worship Service.

WYATT PARK BAPTIST CHURCH – St. Joseph, Missouri 1996 - 2005
Guest Preacher, Youth Bible Study Teacher/Counselor and Worship Leader
• Preached in absence of Pastor Dr. Jimmy Albright.
• Taught and counseled annually at “Spark,” a youth discipleship weekend. Wrote material for High School students.
• Developed techniques for working with today’s youth under the supervision of an accomplished youth minister: organized and facilitated youth retreats, redesigned youth center, developed youth Bible study materials, wrote and directed youth skits.
• Led worship for youth at events and for adults in Sunday morning worship.
• Sang as guest performer.

UNIVERSITY BAPTIST CHURCH – Waco, Texas 2001 - 2004
Lay Preacher, Deacon, and Teacher
• Served as a Deacon for cutting edge church designed to integrate faith and culture within the post-modern generation of students at Baylor University.
• Developed personal preaching voice by delivering sermons in absence of Pastor Kyle Lake.
• Created and conducted liturgy and sermon for 2004 Maundy Thursday evening service.
• Innovatively taught Sunday school classes studying biblical books: Romans, Colossians and Genesis 1-4.
• Created community group designed to meet the needs of men and women with eating disorders, depression and self-esteem issues.
• Served on Ordination Committee.

CENTRIFUGE – Jefferson City, Tennessee 2000
Counselor and Teacher
• Taught 11th and 12th grade Bible study.
• Taught college preparatory class dealing with the scholarly aspects of faith and practical living skills.
• Directed weekly skits for youth, organized staff skits.
• Assisted in worship design and sang in worship services.
• Led team-building and recreational activities.

WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE – Liberty, Missouri 1996 - 2000
Preacher, Teacher and Worship Leader, Chaplain
• Preached at Parent’s Weekend worship service.
• Taught and counseled youth at Windermere Camp for Bible Preaching Week and Youth Development Week.
• Functioned as a worship leader and guest performer.
• Founded worship and bible study organization seeking to engage and enable Greek students in their Christian faith.
• Elected to serve Delta Zeta Sorority as chaplain and philanthropist.

LATHROP CHRISTIAN CHURCH – Lathrop, Missouri 1998
Contemporary Worship Leader
• Prepared and led worship for the contemporary Sunday morning worship service.


Dr. Roger Olson, Rev. Dorisanne Cooper, Rev. Don Vanderslice, Rev. Kyle Lake, Rev. Gerald Small, Dr. Roger Paynter

Come on now, you know you want to hire me . . .

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This is the sermon I preached today June 12 at Wyatt Park Baptist Church.

I want to echo George’s sentiments last week about being invited here to preach. I remember George and the boys who lived with Jim Stuck. I was in the youth group at the time with Summer Campbell, Sue Ellen Ray, Laura Hamilton, and Angela Porter, and since Summer Campbell and I were close friends, she and I were occasionally found tailing all the older boys, the friends of Jana and Shannon, her older sisters. And now I come in on the tails of George again. George spoke last week of repentance, of turning around from the sin that sends us to death so that we may receive life. If you didn’t grow up in the church, allow me to simplify: repenting means saying you’re sorry for the sorry stuff you’ve done and committing to change.

“But why change?” Many will ask. “I like my life. I don’t do anything necessarily bad. I don’t murder or steal, heck I haven’t even cheated on my husband. I do my taxes, I go to church, and I attend my kid’s tee-ball games. I’m a stellar citizen.” And besides, many justify, “I don’t even believe in hell anyway! Hell is a hyperbole: a trick of words and metaphors to scare us into ‘loving’ a god.”

So, what’s the point? Eternal life? For some, yes, that is the point. That ticket into heaven, that guarantee of eternal freedom from the gnashing of teeth. Please don’t hear me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with heaven. But I wonder, could there be more to Christianity than someday?

I work as a permanent substitute at a high school on the South East side of Austin. This means virtually nothing to you in Missouri, but in Austin the words South East triggers some serious imagery. My high school is mostly Hispanic with some African Americans, and only enough Caucasians for me to count on one hand. But its “ethnic diversity” has nothing to do with integrating cultures or learning in an accelerated environment. Rather it has everything to do with poverty, immigration and the survival of the fittest. Three weeks before school ended, a gang (two cars full) jumped one of our students walking home from school. They were beating him with a lead pipe when one of our Assistant Principals saw him and jumped out of her car to save him. She screamed for help, but no one else stopped. Two large men across the street kept right on walking – no one wants to get involved in gang wars. On the last day of school there were threats of a drive by shooting. Add that tension to our pregnant, drug pushing, illiterate students (many without parents), and you’ve got a real party in East Austin.

Now there is some serious repentance that needs to go on there, right? No part of what I just described is holy or righteous. No part clean or atoned for. Right? Pre-marital sex, drug abuse, child abuse, underage drinking, disrespect, unchecked aggression, negligent parenting, rape, stalking, swearing that would make a sailor look tame . . . you name it, we got it. It’s easy for us to spot a bruise and point a finger at the fist that made it. It’s not so easy to spot the scars on our hearts we create ourselves.

No one’s a perfect parent. No one’s a perfect daughter. No one’s a perfect business partner, or teacher, or pastor or waitress. We all screw up: we lose our tempers, we cut corners financially, we step on others to get ahead, we criticize our neighbors, chew out our bosses behind their backs, and lament that our children have not grown up to be just like us. We vote for the guy with the biggest tax cuts but forget to tithe or give back to the community. We like to watch the girls volleyball team, but not because we enjoy the sport. We believe an environmental consciousness is healthy and even fashionable at times, but we don’t recycle. We whine about our weight but refuse to eat right or exercise. We see our kids wasting away, but are afraid to talk to them about eating disorders. We feel bad about poor people so we give them a dollar on the street instead of an umbrella or the coat off our back.

Have I struck a nerve? I do not intend to accuse. I had to dig through the mess I’ve made of my heart just to say these things today. I’ve been to hell and back dealing with my own shortcomings and my list of grievances against myself is not small. I need help . . . and I need hope.

Please turn in your Bibles with me to Lamentations 3:17-32. Lamentations puts to paper the pain Israel felt after Jerusalem fell to Babylon and they were carried off into exile. It is not the book most people turn to for hope, but follow along with me, I’ll be reading from the Message Translation.

17 I gave up on life altogether. I've forgotten what the good life is like. I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished. GOD is a lost cause." I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all--oh, how well I remember -- the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: GOD's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.
GOD proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from GOD. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst. Why? Because the Lord won't ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.

Last month was my birthday. And on my special day, when I went into my supervisor, Laurie’s office, she handed me a gift – a small candle in a beautiful container. She smiled and said she thought it looked like it had crosses on it. She knows I volunteer a lot at my church. But then she looked at me, and I saw her eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know if I ever told you,” she said. “My son died a year and a half ago. He would have turned 28 May 2nd. But he caught a disease that ate away at his heart, and he was gone in six weeks. I grew up in the church,” she told me. “I used to believe in God, I don’t anymore.”

Laurie has lost hope. You see, some of our hearts are broken not only by our own sin, but by circumstances beyond our control. If you’ve heard the word cancer in the doctor’s diagnosis, you know what I mean. If you’ve ever awakened to find your spouse in love with another person, you know what it means to be a victim of sin. If you’ve lost it all in a fire or flood, if you’ve been passed over on a job because of your race or gender, if you’ve been a victim of emotional, sexual or physical abuse, you know the pain this world distributes.

And you know it’s time for hope. Verse 33.

33 God takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way:
When prisoners of the land are crushed under foot,
When human rights are perverted in the courts of the Most High,
When the evidence in a case is tampered with – does the Lord not see it?

Hebrew scholars note that each chapter in Lamentations follows an alphabet pattern with the first word in a stanza beginning with alef, A, the second with bet, B, and so on. Some speculate that this system creates a helpful memory aid – but this does not seem to be the case here. Rather, limiting the verses from alef to tav (A to Z) puts a limit on the amount of sorrow to be expressed for the sake of the individual, a helpful way of creating closure, of not allowing the suffering to continue. However, the use of the alphabet may also be a way to communicate the completeness of grief suffered – the full breadth of pain from A to Z.

Sometimes at my church in Austin, we sing old spirituals: “Soon we’ll be done with the trouble of the world, the trouble of the world, the trouble of the world. Soon we’ll be done with the trouble of the world, and going to live with God. No more weepin’ and a wailin’, no more weepin’ and a wailin’, no more weepin’ and a wailin’, going to live with God.” And I like it when we sing those songs cause I can just sing my heart out – sing my sin away, sing my pain away, and I know that someday a heaven awaits me.

But I have some other favorites too that remind me of what awaits me now. Christian songwriter Don Chaffer sings, “In the gas station bathroom by the condom machine, I heard the word of the Lord. He said ‘Take off your shoes, this is holy ground too. You know I came for the sick and the bored.’” Pretty blunt lyrics for a Christian to sing, right? But fortunately, we don’t just believe in a God of someday, but a God of now. He is not just a God of the holy, but a God of the broken too. We believe in a God, Jesus Christ, who was born poorer than any of us here to a young teenager and a man in a cave reeking of cow dung. We believe in a God who stepped into this world full of selfishness, bitterness, envy and lust, to try and communicate how much He loves us. We believe in a God who hugged lepers, clothed prostitutes and fed the beggars. We believe in a God who partied with people who cheated their neighbors, slept with their neighbors, and killed their neighbors. We believe in a God who might just have volunteered to work with students and faculty at a school in South East Austin. Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote, “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” When Jesus looks at us, he does not see sorry sinners, but beautiful, full humans made in the image of God. Jesus sees each of us where we are and offers to walk through the valleys and the mountains, the highs and the lows alongside us, to cry when we cry and laugh when we laugh. And that gives me hope to get through today and tomorrow.

55 "I called out your name, O GOD, called from the bottom of the pit.
You listened when I called out, "Don't shut your ears! Get me out of here! Save me!'
You came close when I called out. You said, "It's going to be all right.'
"You took my side, Lord; you brought me back alive!

The good news is hope has come. Hope is not a person, but a God, Jesus Christ, who became a person to understand our pain and take it on as His own. He came to demonstrate what it means to love one another. Hope has entered the world to usher in a new kingdom calling for repentance, justice and the opening of our eyes and hearts to the story of God. And Hope calls us to allow that story to integrate with our own. Because we now see, because we now hear, because we now feel what it means to have hope, our story changes from one of selfishness and pain to one of caring and worship. The Deuteronomic code in the Old Testament, the Israelite’s “motto for life,” the Golden Rule we now call it, is repeated by Jesus in each of the four gospels as the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor.” Love God and take care of each other. In other words, now that you have found Hope amidst sorrow, worship. And now that you have found ultimate love, learn to love others, for indeed, Hope compels us to. You may be able to offer hope through a meal, a donation, a helping hand, a tutorial, music, art, a conversation, even through the telling of your own story. No matter who you are or who you aren’t, what you do or what you’ve done, the pain you’ve caused or the pain you’ve inherited, no one is beyond the healing hope of Jesus Christ. The Good News is hope has come.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well – Hope has come.”


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I just watched In Good Company a great flic with Dennis Quaid and the girl from Girl With A Pearl Earring and Lost In Translation. As I said, it was good. Pretty funny and heartwarming. But if I'm really honest with myself, it gave me anxiety.

I'm only one year older than the kid who gets the big corporate promotion and takes over as Dennis Quaid's boss. He talks about being "scared shitless" and having "no idea what he's doing." He drinks like 8 cups of coffee and then heads a board meeting stuttering and spounting out phrases like "awesome" and "are you totally psyched". It was one of those moments when the audience gets that horrible, stomach turning, I'm-hurting-cause-he's-making-a-fool-of-himself moments. It was Bridget Jones at the microphone introducing Mr. Fittsherbert. And all of the sudden, I experience a rush panic over my body as I realized that could be me in a board room at a church trying to discuss budgets and God and relationships with a group of men who have been "doing church" for years and years.

What am I thinking? I can't do this! I'm a good preacher. I'm a good writer. I'm a good teacher. But I can't "run" a church. I don't know the first thing about that sort of crap. Yeah, I took the classes but, please! Can you just picture me and a bunch of guys with grey hair staring at each other across the Bible, the budget, a couple cups of coffee and the church bylaws?

I may be getting in way over my head.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tonight my father and I shared our 60th and 27th birthday party at the house. Carla and Tom Campbell were there as were Shannon and Gerald Small and the boys. Emily drove up and Ben Leimkuhler joined us too - and of course, my grandparents. We grilled out, but to mother's dismay (read anger) no one sat outside on the patio amongst the fruits of her gardening labor, for rain, thunder and lightening crashed down on us about half an hour before dinner.

I admit, it feels good to be in St Joseph, although for the first time in all my adult visits, I find myself longing to be around people my own age. I guess that's why I called Ben to invite him over at last minute. I realized most all my friends in St Jo were in their fifties or older! Normally, this doesn't bother me. I love my older friends - they're very cool, but for some reason, I'm feeling estranged. Last night I even called over to the Nelson's just to see if any of their kids (my surgate siblings) were by chance in town. They weren't.

So I watched Team America: World Police with my mom. That might have been a mistake. Holy cow. Who wants to watch puppets have sex? Please. I appreciated the satire and the catchy tunes ("Team America **** yeah"), but I could have done without the extensive vulgarity. I recognize that had I seen this movie without my mother, and say, with Lance, Josie or Phil instead, I perhaps would have been more entertained. Instead, mother and I just kept exchanging mortified glances. Oh well. Tonight brought Spanglish and some serious tears, and the night before last was Vanity Fair. I bet tomorrow and Thursday hold Phantom and Connie and Carla as dad and I both now have these two flics in our possession.

Anyway, if you're under 35 and in St Jo Mo at some point in the next 13 days, feel free to give me a call. I'm feeling restless and trying to put my life together. If I move back to the area (remember, I'm unemployed again and homeless come August), I want to know what's in store for me.

Other than screening movies for my parents.