Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I've Done (in bold)

Another survey-ish sort of thing. But, how well do you know me?... (If i've done it, it's starred and in bold).

*1. Started your own blog
*2. Slept under the stars
*3. Played in a band.
. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
*6. Given more than you can afford to charity
*7. Been to Disneyland/world
*8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
*10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
*12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
*16. Had food poisoning
*17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
*20. Slept on an overnight train
*21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
*24. Built a snow fort
*25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
*29. Seen a total eclipse (of the heart? j/k)
*30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
*35. Seen an Amish community
*37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (yes, but that doesn't mean I don't still want a pool in my backyard)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
*39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
*41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
*44. Visited Africa
*45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
*46. Been transported in an ambulance
*47. Had your portrait painted (i used to model for a figure drawing class)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
*51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
*52. Kissed in the rain
*53. Played in the mud
*54. Gone to a drive-in theater
*55. Been in a movie (technically)
*56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
*60. Served at a soup kitchen
*61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
*63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
*67. Bounced a check
*68. Flown in a helicopter
*69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
*70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
*71. Eaten Caviar (ew!)
*72. Pieced a quilt (with my grandma!)
*73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
*77. Broken a bone
*78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (and i've seen the musical!)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (please, someday...)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
*83. Walked in Jerusalem
*84. Had your picture in the newspaper
*85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (sick.)
*88. Had chickenpox
*89. Saved someone’s life (depends on how you look at it...)
90. Sat on a jury
*91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
*93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
*95. Seen the Alamo in person
*96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (Does the Dead Sea count?)
*97. Been involved in a law suit
*98. Owned a cell phone
*99. Been stung by a bee

a poem for the world alone

Listen, I shouldn't tell a lie;
i've been drinking.
and I've a sudden urge to remove all the space from my sentences.

So let's talk...
on the phone, on FB on Skype;
whatever brings me close to you.

Yeah, we've not known each other a long while,
but isn't it fun to explore the unknown?
or at least seek to be known
a little bit

In a world that isn't "a little bit" of anything
but rather bigger than any of us should imagine

Cuz sometimes it isn't.
so you have to write sentenceswithoutspaces;
intimacy is essential to life
in a world this big.

don't lie about the world.
it will find you out,
and expose you as alone.

like me.
not alone, but seeking to be known.


This Poem Rocks My Socks...

One Art
Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers and a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
thought it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Changing the World

This man is amazing and gives away 64% of his $700 a week salary every single week of the year... here's how and why.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stupid Musician

Dear Rock Stars,

Just because you're in a band and playing in Austin at SXSW doesn't mean you get to do this.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dead (or maybe not) Wrong

This is a big whoopsy... the guys gave a deathbed confession... and then didn't die.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Milkshake Brings All the Boys To the Yard

I hate that song.

Most of my blog readers know that i work with college students. These students constantly harass me and beg me for things like kalaches in sunday school and sufjan stevens in worship and occasionally an FBC sponsored trip to the beach. Sometimes I comply, sometimes I do not.

So for probably four or five months now, they've been nagging me to have a slumber party at my house. Don't ask me why. But I finally caved. Last week I agreed to a Tuesday Night Slumber Party Chez Moi. My roommate would be out of town so there'd be no one to wake up and annoy, plus several of my away students were back in town on spring break and my austin students hadn't let yet for theirs so it seemed like an okay time. My week wasn't too busy, my energy was good. And after making the boys promise to come work in my yard this spring, the deal was made.

My beloved students showed up with sleeping bags in hand at 9pm. We played cards, watched a movie, laughed, pet the pets, ate food and then when the hands on my electric clock bleeped 12am my students screamed, "Midnight Milkshakes!"

Oh god.

Apparently they have a ritual where if they are all hanging out together and midnight arrives they all pile into one car and go to Whataburger to get milkshakes.


So I went to wake up Meredith who was asleep in the back bedroom (she's allergic to cats and we had to drug her to keep her alive) who made me promise to wake her if we did anything fun. I put my shoes on and rummaged for my wallet while the others hollered from the kitchen that the event was called Midnight Milkshakes, not 12:26am Milkshakes.

Okay, okay.

We piled into Bryan's car and headed to Whataburger which to my bewilderment was still open.

"Don't you see the 24 Hours underneath the sign? Geez, Ann. Pay attention sometime."

I know, I am so uncool.

So we're in line and I'm enthralled that people are actually eating greasy, gross food at this hour on a Tuesday night (or morning I should say) when one of them says, "watch your mouth Ann, there's a man over there" and we all turn to see who I could have offended with my disparaging Whataburger remarks.

"My Lord that man's pants are low," I begin to say, "I know that's the style but..." I trailed off, for at that moment we realized simultaneously that the man's pants weren't low. Rather, he was emerging from a black-tinted-window vehicle in his boxers and he was actually pulling his pants up.

I gasp.

They gasp.

I would make a "that's what she said" joke but it was so horrifyingly real to us all at that moment that it just seems profane.

They begin to giggle.

The man gets into the next car over and both cars pull away going their separate ways.

I am mortified. "You see? THIS is why I don't go out in my neighborhood at 12:30 in the morning!" I yell at my students.

"That just happened... in a Whataburger parking lot," one of them responds.

O God.

We sit in silence until we pull up to the window. Those damn milkshakes and malts could not come fast enough. I paid the bored cashier who obviously had no idea the fun being had in his parking lot, and we drove away.

"Tell no one," I instructed and they giggled again.

What happens at Whataburger stays at Whataburger... and I will never participate in Midnight Milkshakes again.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Lenten Sermon: What Got Jesus Killed

Sermon Text: John 2:12-27

What got Jesus killed? We’re spending six weeks as a church, alongside all other Protestant and Catholic churches and a week ahead of the Greek Orthodox churches preparing for Jesus’ death and resurrection. Six weeks studying Jesus’ death on a cross. Six weeks preparing for Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb.

And in putting ashes on our head and declaring together as a community that indeed, we are all equally depraved and equally sinful in the eyes of God, we say, "from ashes we have come and to ashes we will return." In doing this we acknowledge that we are not worthy. And yet on Easter Sunday, resurrection Sunday, we will discover that God chooses to resurrect us anyway. For six weeks many of us deprive ourselves of a vice or pleasure and focus on our relationship with God. We pray, we repent, we suffer if only a smidgen, because Christ suffered first.

But Why?

Not why do we spend time doing this – the value of admitting we sin and turning from it and to Christ is undeniable by even the most secular cynics. My question is why did Jesus suffer? Why did Jesus die?

Unfortunately, I may never get the answer to that question. Oh there’s lots of theological reasons like that swell little drawing you do on a piece of paper where God is on one side of the page and You are on the other and you need a road to get to God so in the middle of the paper connecting You to God, a cross gets drawn because Jesus is the link between You and God.

Great. We’ve officially reduced the infinite and holy God to a stick drawing. Lovely.

I don’t understand that reasoning quite frankly. And I certainly don’t like the idea of a God dying in order to save me. I mean, God’s God. Why death? A bloody, grueling death? Why not just snap your fingers and get us all to be with you. That’s possible, right?

But that’s not what happened. So perhaps I may get a glimpse of the Why if we return to our sacred text, to the story that is told there. We’ll begin in John 2.

In John, as in the other three gospels, Jesus visits the Temple and upon seeing the men selling the animals for sacrifice and god only knows what else and making a profit of it right there, right next to the holy of holies, Jesus flips. He freaks out and in John we get the real details. He turns over the tables, his face turns red, his muscles bulge, he turns green…

Okay, I’m embellishing. But I loved the Incredible Hulk as a kid. And did you see The Rock play Ba-ROCK Obama on Saturday Night Live last week? Hilarious. And so I picture Jesus getting mad like that. I mean no where else does he trash a joint. When the prostitute is brought before him, he uses a tricky mind game to teach the perpetrators a lesson, then he draws in the sand. He doesn’t start throwing rocks or sand at them, hollering at them for their hypocrisy.

But in the Temple, he does. And therein lies what scholars consider to be the real reason Jesus got hung on a cross. It wasn’t that he was nice to outcasts, or cast demons out of people or made fun of the Pharisees. It was this… it was what he communicated to the religious leaders in the Temple that day.

According to Charles Talbert, a Johannine Scholar, what Jesus does in the Temple is render sacrifice IMPOSSIBLE. The money-changers changed money into shekels. Shekels buy the birds and the bulls. And without the birds, there’s no daily sacrifice for sin. And if there’s no sacrifice, then how can the people be made right in the eyes of God?

What Jesus does in the Temple is similar to what happens in the book of Matthew when Jesus is on the cross, “Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.”

Jesus essentially says, there is no more need for sacrifice because he has come. There is no need to submit yourself to ritualistic cleansing because one has come who has made you clean. There is no need to go to a high priest for a blessing and affirmation, there is one whom you may go to yourself. The curtain is torn, there is no distinction between priest and peasant, no hierarchy to get to God. Jesus and the Father are one and both are accessible. There is no need for sacrifice to appease God or cleanse yourself. God has made the ultimate sacrifice, God has died because Jesus and the Father, as Nicodemus confesses in the very next story and as Jesus admits 8 chapters later are One. Jesus and the Father are One.

Jesus says there’s no need for the sacrificial system anymore. Why? Because He and God are one. And that’s blasphemy. And in making that statement, Jesus made himself a death wish.

Remember the ten commandments?
Number One: “You shall have no other gods before me” (including yourself).
Number Two: “You shall not make for yourself an idol” (or make yourself one – oops. Sorry American Idol), “whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Number Three: “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,” (for use the name of the Lord when referring to yourself) “for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”
Deuteronomy 5:7-21 and Exodus 20:3-17

I think you get my point.

And consider this. In the Old Testiment and even some Orthodox Jews today wouldn’t even speak the name of God: Yahweh, so sacred and so other and so holy did they consider God to be. They wouldn’t even speak God’s name. So you can imagine how they would respond to someone who not only spoke the name of God but who equated himself as equal with God. “Why do you do this in God’s house? My house is to be a place of prayer.”

Webster’s defines blasphemy as “an indignity offered to God in words, writing, or signs; impiously irreverent words or signs addressed to, or used in reference to, God; speaking evil of God; also, the act of claiming the attributes or prerogatives of deity. When used generally in statutes or at common law, blasphemy is the use of irreverent words or signs in reference to the Supreme Being in such a way as to produce scandal or provoke violence.”

And really, what could be more irreverent than for a human to equate himself with God? God as a human? Indeed that is scandelous.

And yet, that’s what Jesus claims.

So each of the synoptic gospels ends with the story of Jesus in the Temple functioning as the symbolic “final straw” of Jesus’ irritating ministry. Healing lepers and calling prostitutes clean is one thing, but equality with God? Please. And John begins his story of Jesus’ ministry with the Temple cleansing for a similar reason. This event is so provocative that it must be told first. All the rest of the stories just add to its case.

And that’s it. That’s the crux. Yes, Jesus was a good moral teacher who many of us strive to live our life after. Yes, Jesus won the victory over evil forces in the world. Yes, Jesus ransomed his life so that ours may be saved.

But why?

Because He’s God.

Because He’s God, and we’re not.

Praise be to God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Four Seasons of Texas

We have four seasons here in Texas: Almost Summer, Summer, still Summer and Christmas.

I read that on a mass text today.

Right now we're in Almost Summer which means it could be 85 degrees (and it was this weekend) or 45 degrees (which it is right now). But we got rain for the first in months, I think, last night, which was awesome. It'll make my weeds grow which will give the impression of grass.

Always manipulate your environment.


So right now I'm in my "winter" jammies with my down comforter pulled up around me (i usually just sleep with a sheet and thin blanket. A candle is glowing and I've got a cup of hot Sleepy-Time tea.


Except that my toes are freezing. Must find wool socks.

It's a miracle I ever lived in a place where it snowed.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Happiest Ride On Earth

So I've been asked to comment on the happiest place on earth. We'll start with the happiest cruise on earth :)

That would be the famous "It's a Small World Ride." All I have to say is, "Awesome." I doubt any psychodelic drug I could get my hands on here in the hood today could compare to the Had-To-Have-Been-Seventies-Acid-Trip that is the happiest cruise on earth. It's amazing. All these "colors" and "worlds" and "cultures," it's badass.

And then at the end of the ride you enter LSD la la land where are the "people groups" are living together in one oddly white and blue world, playing, singing no doubt and of course, riding a ferris wheel.

My second favorite is Splash Mountain which tells the story of Brer Rabbit while getting you wet. It's awesome. I remember reading Brer Rabbit's story from a book at my grandma's house when I was a little girl. So it was nice to revisit it on Splash Mountain. The Scary Adventures of Snow White also tells the story of the movie in one easy ride.

And it was scary at one part. Seriously people, I jumped. Sitting. I startled, I guess. Whatever.

Cinderella's Carousel was right next to Snow White's ride, both of which I rode by myself while my buddies revisited Space Mountain for the second and third time. Ew. I don't like fast or bang your head side to side. I like Carousels.

I also like Funnel Cakes. I think they remind me of going to World's of Fun in Kansas City as a kid. So what did I do while my amigos were riding the roller coasters for the fifth and sixth time (I just threw up a little), I ordered a funnel cake with powered sugar and ATE THE WHOLE THING.

You heard me. By myself. The whole damn thing.

And it was awesome. Then I went shopping for about the seventh time in 24 hours. Also awesome. I love the pens. I bought myself a Belle pen (that's the princess I am) and a Nightmare Before Christmas pen. COOL!

My friends and I ended the day by returning to the hotel and then heading to a Chicago pizza parlor to spend our last night together gorging on pizza. Yum. And then we finished with Hearts (played on my new Pirates of the Caribbean cards) and eventually crashed.

Early the next morning, I barely remember waking up to Julie gently leaning over me and saying good-bye.

Just like on the Happiest Ride on Earth...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kiss My McAss

Unlike McDreamy and McSteamy and even the McMansion built right next to my house, I HATE McDonalds. I'm not big on monopolies, but restaurants that advertise unhealthy substandard food to children really gets under my skin. Not to mention the known neuro-toxin they put on the inside of the chicken boxes to help preserve the smell of the food and well, like any decent human being, I avoid the place.

However, I have been known to eat there in dire emergencies like the one presenting itself last Thursday. Knowing I wouldn't get dinner for another 4 hours and not having had lunch, I joined Michelle and her sister Katie, who was also hungry in the drive-thru at McyDee's. We were on the way to Michelle's sonogram (more on that excitement later!) and it was the only restaurant nearby, so we stopped.

Katie and I decided to share the Chicken McNugget meal. Ew. I know. So we ordered it and pulled to the second window. However, by that time I realized I should have ordered a caffeinated beverage because I still had a long day ahead of me. Since it was the pay window, we figured we could still order so I dictated my request up to Katie for a coffee.

"You know, the one that's frozen with caramel?"
"You want a coffee on ice?"
"No, I want that new thing you're offering, the frozen coffee with caramel..."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I just saw it on your menu, the caramel frappucino thing."
"That's starbucks."
"I know, but I want the new drink you're offering that's comparable to that."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Expletive. Just forget it Katie, forget it sir. Drive to the next window Katie."

We get to the next window where the next McMan hands us our food at which point I ask from the backseat for some hot mustard sauce to go with the nuggets. Yum. He hands two to Katie.

"And can I have some ranch?" she asks (remember we're sharing).
"I cannot give you more than that."
"That's all I'm allowed to give you."
At this point the unhappy, pregnant and soon to be sonogramed mother leans over and says,
"Katie give the man back ONE of the hot mustards and sir, give us a ranch. Please."

The transaction transpired. We all sighed irritatedly, but with most things we wanted in hand and turned the corner toward the perinatal clinic and what did we see? A TEN FOOT TALL ADVERTISEMENT FOR A McCafe. A McCafe.


Customer Care at it's worst. Reason number 73 as to why I will never go to McDonalds again.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Saved By the... Blog

So about 12 hours after I posted my last blog I got a phone call from a friend in Nashville who's mom would be arriving that night in Disney World, and (you guessed it) I am welcome to give her a call!

I'm telling you, for all the weirdness of the week, it sure worked out well for me.

As I mentioned before, I had searched, pretty hard, to find someone going to Current who would want to play at DW (what I now call Disney World since we're now kinda on BFF terms) with me. Cody... not going. Rachel... not going. Tracie... not staying. Etc. Etc. Etc. Then I show up and find one of my best friends, Julie, at the retreat and she invites me to stay on with her at a hotel right across from Disney FOR FREE! Unfortunately for Julie, she took a tumble the second night of the Current Retreat (that's what happens when you skip worship Julis) and badly sprained her wrist.

So me staying with her turned out to be a blessing for her too since, well, when you're in a cast from fingertip to elbow, there's lots of things you can't do for yourself. Those things shall remain unnamed...

Her friends and colleagues from Wilshire Baptist where they are all residents were pretty cool peeps too.

One of them I knew from seminary. But the other three I just met and all were kind enough to allow me to join their journey (which included a 30 minute car ride with four men and two women in a five passenger vehicle. Yes, gimp girl i smooshed into the front seat together and yes it looked exactly like you're picturing it.

And then of course, there's the discovery of the plane ticket oversight. But, after blogging about it and getting the call from Sam, sure enough, his mom, LuAnn, picked me up and drove me to her resort IN THE PARK where again, I got free lodging and also a free park-hopping ticket to DW! I knew that Sam and Lynnette's family loved DW, but i did not quite understand the extent. This woman pulls out a BINDER and starts flipping through the pages to the back where she keeps her spare tickets! And the hotel we're at? It's called the Pop Culture Resort! Just wait for my report on that.

And not only does LuAnn love Disney, but she loves animals and after dropping off my stuff we promptly head to Animal Kingdom (where none of the Wilshire kids were interested in going). YES!!!

Of course, the morning of my last day there I received a string of phone calls about my alarm going off at the house and Clarence holding Janie back while the police inspected the inside. And while that turned out just to be a big wind that blew open the side door, I still haven't figured out what blew through me that last day. After eating breakfast and hopping on the plane back to Austin, I got sick. Motion sick, I thought. But as I changed clothes in the back of my other friend Julie's car who had picked me up from the airport, I discovered it was perhaps more than just motion sickness. And while I managed to squeeze inside the dress Julie'd brought for me and jump from the car into the church for the wedding, I didn't manage to keep the wedding feast inside like I'd hoped. Home early from the wedding, I tasted it a second time if you get my drift.

So while I had a blast at DW (and you will be getting more pictures and blogs soon enough) the trip was definitely tempered with sobriety at the end... or perhaps a nice little reminder that while I may have just experienced the happiest place on earth, I actually live in the most melodramatic place on earth. But hopefully between the Princesses and the puking, I'll find some normalcy in between.