Thursday, December 25, 2008

away from home for the holidays


Like all years since we moved to Wisconsin, Sarah and I are not returning home for the holidays because we have a student conference that takes place after Christmas and before new years that we need to be ready for. A coworker set me strait the other day when we were all complaining about not being with family at this time of year (he is also from California, Northern California actually but we will not hold it against him) He said that serving these conferences is the perfect task for this Christmas season, yes we want to be with family but isn’t serving others exactly what Jesus did? Isn’t that what we are celebrating? I dug my toe into the warn carpet and thought about that…as hard as it is to accept, he is right, I feel that God has us right where he wants us, and for me that means driving a big truck down to Atlanta Georgia the day after Christmas to help facilitate and tech InterVarsity's Black Student Conference; and Sarah will be driving to Chicago to organize childcare at InterVarsit's Grad and Faculty Conference.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stand by me

We first saw this on Bill Moyer's Journal about a month ago and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Short story is a guy went around the world for about a year filming and recording street artists playing the same song and then mixed it together later. I think because there has been so little on TV lately of an upbeat nature...this grabbed my attention. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

new car

Many people have asked for a picture of our new car…well here it is. Since I (Matt) was in California this last weekend, I noticed that the Pontiac Vide (essentially a Toyota Matrix by the way) is not very popular out there because I didn’t see a single one, and they are pretty regular here…unfortunately.



Also for those of you that are still in shorts and sandals, this is a little taste of what life is like in Madison…that is not snow by the way, but ice. The 12 inches of snow that are falling today will not touch the car though; it is safely inside our underground parking.

Happy winter!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

birdtracks


After almost a year absence, the many feathered birds of the Midwest are back on our balcony…I think it is mostly due to Sarah’s bird-feeder and its new treats. I haven’t seen any birds eating from its bounty yet but the evidence is conclusive that they have found the apricot strawberry goodness in the feeder and are liking the new nutrition.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thanksgiving 2008


This year, Sarah and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. We invited anyone that was not going home to join us for a huge turkey (Sarah got a 20lb-er) and way more food than necessary. We all comforted each other in missing home since all of us have family out of state, so we made due with friends.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So now that winter is pretty much here, this has quickly become our new favorite video.

Monday, November 17, 2008

St. Nicholas

I have heard bits and pieces about St. Nicholas growing up but I'm not sure if I have ever heard this version. (or at least if I did, I sure don't remember it) But I kind of like it and like how there seems to be more meaning to what he did rather than just give money or gifts away to needy people. The funniest part is that I'm not sure if I ever picked up on the fact that the real St. Nicholas was from Turkey. I think I always pictured him from Germany or that part of the world. It would be interesting if St. Nicholas evolved into something that reflected more of the real story.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy moment

I never thought I'd have a joyous moment at the gas station...but this past weekend I went to fill up our new car and it only cost $21.35! Not only did we last about 2 weeks on one full tank but it only cost about $20.00 to fill it back up. It would take over $50 to fill the Jeep up and we were lucky to get two weeks on that. Between that and the falling gas prices...I was a happy camper.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Happenings

Matt is off for a few days to Atlanta, Ga to get some footage of various InterVarsity alumni in their jobs. It's kind of a cool piece in that they get to ask these folk how they see God in their profession. Also, you can see some of Matt's work from this past year in the new InterVaristy annual report. Not all the pictures are his though...so you can try and guess which ones he did.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Need Halloween Lunch Plans?

Friday is free Chipotle if you come in to the Chipotle restaurant dressed like a burrito. Or I think all they need to see is you wearing tinfoil in some manner. I think we finally found a use for that industrial sized box of tinfoil that'd we've been working on for 5 years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote now

pollcode.com free polls
What should our new car be named?
Larry Boy Lorry Lolla Fred

Car buying Lessons

We've spent the past 2 weeks looking around for a new car. We finally found one and here's what we've learned.
  1. Car salesmen are really desperate right now. In fact, we're on first name basis with many of them because they keep calling with new deals: especially Billy, the tattooed salesman with cool glasses. He almost had Matt convinced to become a car salesman so he could be just as cool.
  2. It takes much more time to look at cars than we realized. It took around 20-30 minutes per car that we looked at.
  3. Everyone has opinions about buying cars ranging from don't buy anything and keep the Jeep running...to buy something but don't go into debt over it...to buy something and who cares how much it costs. We went with the middle option.
  4. It's a lot harder deciding on a car when there are two of you involved and you're a one car family. I didn't get my mini and Matt didn't get his hummer.
  5. If you keep looking, have people praying for you, and stick to your list of things your looking for rather than your emotions...you'll eventually find something that meets almost everything you are looking for.
So what'd we get? A fun red 2004 Pontiac Vibe. So far so good...but we'll reserve our final judgment for a year or so after driving it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The New Conspirators

About 4 months ago I read the New Conspirators, by Tom Sine and was challenged particularly in how I should respond to culture as a Christian. Since then it's been fun to read my sister's excellent impressions on the book. Recently another good friend has started reading it which has caused me to read it again....but this time take a bit more time on it.

This book in combination with Andy Crouch's new book Culture Makers, has gotten me thinking a lot about the various subtle ways I have chosen culture as a religion over God and what is my role in changing it. I feel that given today's strange economic circumstances both books are very relevant to where I and many around me are at. Specifically given that one of the main religions in American culture, "money", is now failing...it's a good reality check to think about which religion am I really buying into.

It's been interesting to listen to various responses to the economic turmoil...most of which are either of despair , avoidance or forced/shallow hope. Tom Sine writes that "The biggest lie of our modern global empire is that no God is present in the world. Of course the empire allows us to worship a God, if we choose, as long as we recognize that the God who shows up during worship and at our bible studies has little power to actually change the world. The message is clear: The world is governed by the forces of the global free market, political and economic power, and random mutations of nature-period.

In spite of this message, I am finding growing numbers of Christians who believe the God of the mustard seed empire is actively at work in our world. Our wild outrageous hope is that through the death and resurrection of Christ, our God will write the final chapter and make all things new, not just personally and spiritually but also culturally, economically and politically; he will transform every dimension of our global society."

One voice I have felt strangely absent in all this economic turmoil are Christians who still have an "outrageous hope" that God is still at work. Not a hope that God will make our economics secure again necessarily, but a hope that we are secure in God despite whatever happens in this world. It's my prayer that I can continue to believe in that hope.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lessons learned from this past weekend....

1. When moving to a new state, it is essential to become friends with a 6 grader. That's one of the years when kids learn about state history and can fill you in on all the random fun facts about the state you now live in. For example, I now know that the capital of Wisconsin was chosen to be Madison because the legislators were bribed with buffalo coats (this must have done the bribing in winter).

2. You should never leave an ink pad on the floor open while making cards. While the floor is still ink free...my socks are not.

3. It's nicer to go car shopping on a Sunday when car dealership are closed. You can look at cars and no one will bother you!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Birthday Fun

Well, we've made it through two weeks of birthday fun (matt's was two weeks ago, and mine this past week) and we can now both officially say we are 28. I'm looking forward to being 28...I'm not really sure why but I think 28 always seemed like a cool year. We'll see if it turns out to be such.

To celebrate my birthday I finally broke down and got snowboots. I've managed to go two years in Wisconsin without them but decided that if we really are going to get the predicted 120 inches of snow this winter...it might be a worthwhile investment. We also went out and saw "Get Smart" which I have to admit has become one of my new favorite movies. Matt's still trying to figure out how I can like that movie since I'm not a huge fan of slap stick comedy. I guess it'll just be one of life's mysteries!

Monday, October 06, 2008

California Trip

Last week, we made a mad dash out to California for a dear friends wedding (all I can say is Natalie, it was about time!). Lesson's learned from this trip:
  • make sure to check with your airline about flights. We thought we had checked but somehow we missed that a flight had been canceled.
  • MidWest Airlines is not so friendly on the ground...after finding out that our flight was canceled, the counter help just handed us a 1-800 number and then disappeared!
  • it helps to be a prefered member of a car rental place. After spending an hour on the phone with the airlines at LAX, it was nice to call the rental place and get a car within 1 minute!
  • People drive crazy in LA. I had forgoten that.
  • I'm grateful my parents only live 40 minutes away from the airport and don't mind two stranded kids showing up on their front porch! :) Thanks mom and dad!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Apple Picking


Apple picking is starting to become a tradition for me and our "adopted" kids. This year we added on raspberry picking. I've decided berry picking is a lot more time consuming than apple picking. But it was still fun and it made a good cobbler latter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Matters to InterVarsity

Well, after much work...it's been fun to see this video in a completed form. It's a video that Finn (the last 2100 intern who lived with us) worked on while he was here in the states. It's pretty cool...and has an amazing commentator or voice over (I'm pretty biased though). In fact if you ever want to hear more of his voice you can call him and listen to his voice mail. :)


Friday, September 05, 2008

College Mindset List

The Beloit College Mindset list has been out for a little while now and some of our favorites are:

-Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
-GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
-The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their
parents.
-The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.
-The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum.
-Off-shore oil drilling in the United States has always been prohibited.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Culture

One of the biggest lessons I learned during my time in college and my time on staff is that white people do indeed have culture. And like anything there are both good things and bad things about that. Because of my continued growing awareness in that direction, I was quite amuzed to listen to a recent book review/interview on NPR today entitled "Poking fun at the Stuff White People Like".

While I'm sure that many of the things he points out are not exclusive to white culture nor do they apply to every white person, it does bring up a lot of things that I have to admit I, as a white person, have bought into far to often! And because I often have bought into these things, I enjoyed the reveiw.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Weird Wedding Tradisitons

So Christine, a former 2100 intern, posted this not to long ago and I found it rather amusing. All I can say is that Matt and I totally missed out...and Christine...you should go for it!
How to invite the pope to your wedding

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Political Conventions

I'm grateful that the powers at be decided to schedule the national political conventions the weeks following the Olympics. As the Olympics were drawing to a close, I had some concerns about what I would do with an extra 4 hours at night. But thanks to PBS...I that void has been filled. Thank you Jim Lehrer!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Minnesota

Having grown up in churches where 85% of the pastors hailed from Minnesota, it was great to finally visit what they always refered to as "God's Land." We spent a weekend about 20 minutes north of Minneapolis so Matt could photograph a wedding. Best part of the weekend was sitting along the banks of the Mississippi river for the first time. (Made me want to build a raft and go Huck Finn on life)

Funniest part of the weekend was trying to get out of the city and missing half the exits, getting on the wrong freeways and spending about a hour making u turns and nearly circling the entire city. It's like we've forgotten what freeways are!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic sayings

Thank you Olympic commentators for contributing to our household phraseology. Some of our favorite new phrases so far are:
"silly strong"
"fairy tail good"
"crazy hard"
"scary good"
"I think my grandma could anchor this race"

I'm not sure what I like better, the competition or the commentators.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Memories

I stumbled upon this the other day from a post from Kim N. It brought back many memories and made me quite happy. THE EVOLUTION OF DANCE (http://www.theevolutionofdance.com)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

finger lickin' stickyness good



An advantage (among many) to the Midwest is that we are that much closer to real BBQ. On my recent trip to North Carolina I was introduced to the beauty of real BBQ. I have learned that what we call BBQ in California is just grilling on an open flame, and I still love and miss that, but real BBQ is slow cook with great sauces. Also a classic BBQ place needs to conform to several rules that are better explained by on a co-worker on his blog here. Sarah and I visited one of Madison many BBQ places this past weekend and although it was not the best we have consumed it was sure good for the BELLY.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

It's a Wisconsin Thing

Walking tacos. What is that you might ask?
Some sort of bag that is filled with frito lay's chips and then has taco meat (or chili) dumped on them sprinkled with cheese. I understand the walking part. Still working on the taco part.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Key to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rawanda

After having spent time in Sarajevo, Bosnia, I came home wanting to know more about the history and culture of that region. I remember challenging myself to read 1 book about Bosnia a year. While it has now been about 3 years since I have been in Bosnia, I finally got around to picking up a book about Bosnia. Better late than never I guess. There are many books out there about Bosnia and the war and I randomly chose one based on the title. It proved a lot more powerful than I thought it would be.

The book "The Key's to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rawanda" broaches the topic of what does it realistically look like to seek justice in the aftermath of human suffering and wrongs. As a Christian it left me wondering if justice really is something attainable this side of heaven or something that an earthly court can bring about. The author, Elizabeth Neuffer, did not shy away from the complexities of war's aftermath particularly in today's global society and gave me a much better understanding of the UN and evolution of war tribunals.

It's a very real and stark look at how war and war tribunals opperate in todays world. It's a challenging read and definatly not one for the faint of heart...but I would highly recommend it as it's left me with many more questions than answers (something which I appreciate).

Because of that, I'm highly looking forward to reading Gary Haugen's new book next entitled "Just Courage". I'm hoping he can bring a bit of the Christian perspective back in the fight for justice.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Things that make me smile

Rediscovering, cooking and then eating grammy's berry cobbler recipe:

Mix 1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Add 1/2 cup milk
1 heaping Tbsp melted butter
Pour mixture into a greased pan or bowl.

Spread 1 pint of berries over the top (I used 1 bag of frozen black berries slightly thawed)
Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over berries.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over the top of the berries/sugar.

Bake at 350 for about 40-60 minutes

I'm always surprised by this recipe in that it seems backwards and pouring boiling water over everything seems strange....but the result is worth the weirdness.

Friday, August 01, 2008

July Prayer letter




Our latest newsletter update is going out this weekend so look for it in your email or mailbox soon! Or you can view it here by clicking the images above.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Overheard recently...

at an outdoor play: "you shouldn't be driving in Wisconsin unless you're drinking." Hmmm...I guess I'm not a true Wisconsinite yet.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On Campus

I was forwarded this link a few weeks ago of one of the testimonies from Staff Conference 2008. I had forgotten what a powerful testimony is about God. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Today the Dali Lama saw me in a swim suit

While at the public swimming pool today with some friends, a motorcade of cars swept by about 50 yards away. It really looked like something out of a movie. Police motorcycles in front followed by several black SUV's followed by several other motorcycles.

To be honest, I was a bit shocked to see a motorcade like that since no one really famous ever comes to Madison. The President? I wondered. A Presidential nominee? Bono?

But no, it was the Dali Lama who was in town giving a speech to a large crowd at the fair grounds. And there I was 50 feet away in my swimsuit as he was escorted away to some undisclosed location.

And that is probably the closest I will ever be to being near the Dali Lama.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pandora Radio

So my new favorite website for listening to music is Pandora Radio. It's pretty fun...and let's you create your own stations by picking and artist and then they will play similar music. You can then indicate if you liked the music they picked or not and it'll keep fine tuning your station. It's kind of cool.

My apologies to those who have already discovered this fun site...I'm a bit slow on the web band wagon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend fun

While Matt was in Ca this past weekend for a wedding, I rented some kids (more like babysit them while their parents were out of town) and got to play aunt while having a blast doing things with them around town. I realized there are a lot of benifits to hanging out with kids...such as they provide you an excuse to go see kid movies (like Wall-E...great movie by the way) and provide great commentary to serious social events such as Art Fairs. Between Madison's annual Art Fair on the Square and card making, we had quite the artistic weekend. Here's a few pics from the weekend.














Friday, July 11, 2008

You know your husband loves you when...

he wakes up at 4:30 in the morning and starts a load of laundry. (or was it because it was really hot and he couldn't sleep and there was nothing else to do?)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Conferences

Whew... the staff training conferences InterVarsity holds every summer is now drawing to an end. Matt and I have both been running back and forth these past weeks between the office and the hotel downtown. Matt for photography or sound system reasons and I for watching staff kids.

Maybe now we can get back to a more normal summer (of wedding photography, concerts in the park, killing mosquitos, catching fireflies).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sarah’s newest project

Last winter, Sarah and I got a great idea of getting a gigantic shelf for the living room to put all our books and such on. We were about to build one when we found one on Craig’s List (great place). We brought it home with plans to paint it.


6 months later we did it…well Sarah did...I offered to help but she was having so much fun i didn't want to take any of that away...seriously. We have been deciding on several different colors and finally settled on Honey Butter (basically a pale yellow).

We like it so don’t tell us you don’t

Friday, June 27, 2008

I want to play soccer again…

This is Matt by the way…

After looking at some cool soccer pics I found that I have had several soccer dreams lately, and I just found this video on a photo blog I visit.

It really makes me want to play soccer again, but I know that I would really have to work at it to get back to the shape that I was in and obtain the agility that my mind thinks it still can do…plus I don’t think that I could ever play in the European Finals like I had always dreamed.


Orientation for New Staff

This past week about 100 new InterVarsity Staff workers have been here getting trained to be out in the field on campuses around the country. It's been a lot of fun to have them here and I am always encouraged by their excitment and eagerness to make a difference in this world. What's even more encouraging is to see some of my old students make the decision to come on staff and be here this week. It's nice to know that the ministry I cared so much about in Santa Barbara will continue on!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Budget Hero

So it's not the easiest game to figure out but it's kind of amusing once you figure it out. Basically it gives you a shot at fixing our national budget. It's called Budget Hero.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday boredom relief

Thanks Eddie for passing along this gem. I think I now have a new goal in life.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Reading

Summer makes me think back to all those times my mom would drag us kids down to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. You know those programs where you read so many pages or books to get fun prizes (like pencils).

I recently saw a twist on this at a friends house where their kids earn a couple cents for every page they read and then they can specifically use this money to buy snacks on an upcoming vacation. I thought it was pretty cool idea. Much cooler than a pencil.

Anyways, it made me realize how little I have ready over the past months. So I pulled out my library card for the first time in over a decade am attempting my own summer reading program. I think this will probably be a bit ambitious, but we'll see.

So what am I planning on reading?
MeVille by David Zimmerman
Take This Bread by Sara Miles
Just Courage by Gary Haugen
and some book about Bosnia

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Water

Who would have thought water can cause such trouble...so paradoxical. We need it to survive and yet...it causes so much chaos.

Luckily we haven't been hit by much of all the craziness happening around here. But it's been interesting seeing and learning how to live with Midwest storms.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Party Tips


For a true and tried way to make your party a success and provide ample entertainment allowing your guests to comfortably interact, we highly suggest scheduling a tornado during your event. Not only do the tornado sirens provide ample excitement, but turning the TV on to track the storm and then running outside to look at swirling clouds makes a wonderful conversation starter for those more introverted guests who may not know everyone else at the party. Even if it's just to say "Those crazy idiots!"

In all seriousness, it was quite the weekend. Saturday we went over to celebrate our friend's recent graduation from college with his MA in physics. While there, the storm of the decade hit. Matt and I both admitted that we don't think we've ever seen clouds do the things they were doing that day. There were a few times clouds would actually start swirling in the sky and often in opposite directions of each other. But despite record rains, tornado sirens going off, and incredible lightning, we were quite far from most of the action and sustained no damage.

Although I do have to admit that I seriously wondered as we raced home during a 15 minute lull and the car radio began playing that old hymn ("I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away;
when I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away"
) if the song was being prophetic or just a bad choice by the DJ.

Other Party Tips

Friday, June 06, 2008

In the News...caught my eye

Interesting news story about the current food shortage...caught my eye.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Matt's work

Currently there is a link on the national intervarisity webpage to a video that Matt edited for Staff Conference 08 about Michigan State. I'm not sure how long it will remain on the national site...but if you want to see what Matt's been up to, here ya go!

(Note: I think you need Quicktime to see the video...and I know that on our computer it took about 5 minutes for the video to load...so the screen looks like it is stuck or downloading something for a few minutes).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Little Norway

Last weekend in honor of our Norwegian house guest, we traveled 45 minutes to "Little Norway". Basically it's an old family farm that was established by a Norwegian family who immigrated to Wisconsin way back when. The family now charges money for people to come get a glimpse at the old settler homes and some Norwegian artifacts. Overall it was pretty interesting. Some of the crazier things I learned were:
  • people in early American history used to sleep sitting up. That meant they could make a smaller bed. It also was supposed to keep the fluids from building up in your lungs while you slept which would potentially kill you (according to tradition). Our Norwegian house guest was quick to point out that this is a very American tradition and has nothing to do with Norway.
  • Garden Nomes are a good thing. For some reason I think I always thought these little guys were trouble causers...but I guess not. According to Norwegian tradition they help your garden grow. They only get pesky if you forget to thank them...and then they'll tie your shoes together while you're eating or something like that so you'll trip. So make sure to thank your nomes tonight.

The coolest building on this property was an old replica Norwegian church that had been build for the world fair in Chicago. Lots of wood carvings and things like that. The funniest part was that sometime after the world fair it was bought by some rich guy who used it as his poker house since his wife wouldn't let him gamble in the actual house. All I can say is that it would be a very sweet poker house.



For other fun pictures you can see some of the ones Matt has posted.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Flying Midwest

One of the more surprising things about our trip back west was flying Midwest airlines. I had never actually flown Midwest before and was quite surprised that they are still serving food on board...in fact it's not just food but warm chocolate chip cookies! It's almost enough to make you forget that your trapped in a small compartment thousands of miles above the earth. Even more surpising was how pleasant and funny the staff were. So although almost all our flights were delayed about 10minutes to an hour, it was fogotten amist the friendliness and chocolate. I almost feel like I should write the company and thank them for striving to keep making flying pleasant amoung all these airline troubles. In fact...I think I'll do that right now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Firsts

We saw a muskrat for the first time. It was quite exciting....after spending a half an hour debating whether it was a muskrat or beaver...we finally broke down and went to Boarders to look up Wisconsin wildlife. And it was the furry little creature below. Picture a small beaver with a rat tail and you get muskrat.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back from traveling

We were lucky enough to take a few days off and take a trip out to California. It was our first real vacation in 2 years...we decided vacation is a pretty cool thing.

We spent the week mainly with Sarah's family and I'm happy to report that we all still managed to like each other at the end of the week. So much so that I think we'd actually do a week long vacation with my family again if we ever get the chance.

Matt's beginning to post a few of his photo's on his photo blog. And one of these day's I'll have to put together some of my favorite highlights.

But currently Finn, our house guest, rented The Pink Panther and is watching it....so I must go indulge my need for a yearly slapstick comedy film.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2007 Project

Spurred on by a recent posting of Christine's quilt project which she started while staying with us, I thought I'd post the project that I began while she was here. While her quilt definatly had a more worthy purpose (for her man), mine was more of an attempt to get rid of left over scraps and try an new quilting technique or two. Whoo hoo for finished projects!



Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Matzah

So, in all honesty...I actually like matzah. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's a comfort food...but put a little peanut butter on it or jam and it's quite tasty. That being the case, I found this video quite amusing (just beware it has a catchy tune).



And, in case anyone is still wondering what matzah is, let me know...I can send you a box.

Monday, May 05, 2008

3 more days

Until the next episode of Lost. I don't know if can make it.

Favorite new theory

Friday, May 02, 2008

Show me the money: part 3

continued from yesterday

If we really are to use the rebate money to “stimulate the economy”, Matt and I have been challenged to think of ways that we could actually do so with the rebate. I fully recognize that for some people paying off a debt or loan might be the wisest thing to do. I recognize that some people might actually need to use this money for basic necessities (which would be a good thing). But for those of us who really don’t need this money to get by each month and are viewing this as an early Christmas bonus, here’s some ways to spend your rebate check in a way that might do more for the economy than buying a new ipod.

1) Give a large potion or all to a local food bank. Food banks are being hit extremely hard right now and with the new economic uncertainty, demand on their services is only increasing. For many food banks it takes around $300-$500 to operate one day of service or more. That one day could be the encouragement or support needed to get an untold number of people back on their feet.

2) Invest in a community development investment funds/accounts. Sojourners recently highlighted this type of financial investment. I feel they state clearer what the impact of spending a rebate this way might be better than I could:
"According to the Calvert Foundation’s online Social Return Calculator, your $1,000 deposited in a [community development fund/account/bank] could build .19 affordable homes or finance .32 microenterprises (while creating .53 jobs) over the three-year term of your loan. You did not give the money away to do this; you simply moved it to a financial institution whose primary lending mission is to serve low-income people."

To learn more about these types of investments or how to do so, I suggest taking a look at the links at the bottom of the Sojourner's article. For those of us who are drawn to the saving for a rainy day principles, this might be a great option. You may not get as great of a financial return, but just imagine the human impact return.

3) Give an extra gift to a local missionary. Like food banks, many local missionaries are struggling to make ends meet. Working where we do (at InterVarsity), we hear of this quite often. Your extra gift may be the answer to prayer for a local missionary and may help them continue to purchase their basic necessities. We’d love to pass along names of those who would be blessed by some or your entire tax rebate.

4) Spend your money at a non-corporate business (mom and pop store) or a local artist. Since many of these folk cannot compete with big businesses they often have a harder time making ends meet. Choosing to spend your money there can have a greater and more immediate impact than spending at a bigger cooperation.

5) Find 10-15 other like minded people to pool their rebates to help a single mom at your church put a down payment on a house and expect no repayment. Talk about helping someone gain a bit more financial stability in their life (and their kids).

There are many more ideas out there. For some other ideas check out http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/index.php?s=tax+rebate

So how will we use the rebate? The jury is still out, but we're leaning towards one of the above ideas.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Show me the money: part 2

continued from yesterday's post...

In thinking about the money coming our way, I am surprised not only by how much desire was awoken.....but by how much confidence and stability just the thought the rebate brings me.

I think of the $600 and I take a sigh of relieve. It's almost as if having unexpected money and the ability to spend that money will "fix" problems in my life and lead to a more fulfilling life. In listening to many of the remarks by politicians in regards to the stimulus package...it seems our government feels the same. The ability to spend money will "fix" our economic problems.

In realizing this about myself and our country, it's cause me to question if it is right that our country's health/stability (which is largely based on economic indicators) is based on how much money we spend? Consider the encouragement the nation received from Pres. Bush after 9/11:

“tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.”

Or

“I have great faith in the resiliency of the economy. And no question about it, this incident affected our economy, but the markets open tomorrow, people go back to work and we'll show the world.”

In a time of economic uncertainty, yes there was encouragement to mourn, yes there was encouragement to pray for those affected by the tragedy but there was also the encouragement to return to life as normal. To work, to earn money and to “enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” I like how the author of servingbread.net put it. In the face of uncertainty, America was encouraged “to go shopping and spend their money to show the terrorists that they will not break us.”

How different would it be if our country’s health was measured based on how we treated others or how much we gave away rather than how much we spent on ourselves.

Even with this current economic stimulus package, the motivation is highly based on America’s desire to consume. In fact, as most of us are well aware, the government would like nothing less than for all of us to go out and spend the rebate on new toys. It’s just amazing that the solution to having a healthy nation/economy is to encourage people to spend more (even when most people have an average of $8,000 in credit card debt). This stimulus package doesn’t seem to address the real problem causing our economic stability. And would it really be a bad thing if the economy corrected itself and as a nation we learned to live within our means?

Furthermore, I’m quite skeptical if the rebate checks will really help in the long run considering that most people will spend this extra money at some big corporation. I’ve have particularly enjoyed Dave Berry’s comments regarding this very phenomenon:
"Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A. It is money that the federal
government will send to taxpayers.
Q. Where will the government get this
money?
A. From taxpayers.
Q. So the government is giving me back my own
money?
A. Only a smidgen.
Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set,
thus stimulating the economy.
Q. But isn’t that stimulating the economy
of China?
A. Shut up. "


to be continued tomorrow...

Show me the money: part 1

One of the hotter topics around the Kirk table these days is what to do with the rebate check coming our way (or at least we think is coming our way). Opinions have ranged from giving it all away to a struggling food pantry to buying a new wardrobe to a new camera lens. And yes there have been weeping and gnashing of teeth. However despite all the "discussion", both of us always come back to the fact that we are Christians and we want to honor God in using this money. But with competing personal desires, it’s hard to sort out what is “right” in God’s eyes with what tickles our materialistic fancies.

In many ways I resonate with a recent John Piper blog entry where he comments that

Nobody in the world will see you spend your [rebate check] on yourself and conclude that Christ is your treasure. They will assume you are just like them, no matter how loudly you thank God for this boon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it on yourself (the way we do with most of what we earn). Not everything we do can look different from the world—eat, pay utilities, fill up the car, wear clothes (even thrift-store clothes). And yes, we hope (somehow) that spending on ourselves in some way contributes to our being more Christ-exalting people. But do we really need this money? Very few do. We would have gotten on fine without it.
If we didn’t know it was coming, we wouldn’t even be feeling the desires we are feeling right now.”

The moment I heard money was coming our way, desires were not just awoken, they exploded. I can’t tell you how many hours have been wasted visioning of new gadgets, new cars, and fun vacations. As I flirt with these desires, I can help but realize how much materialism has been ingrained not only in my personal life, but in our country as well.

to be continued tomorrow...

Monday, April 28, 2008

My wifes spring hobby

Fun spring photo's Matt recently took. Too bad it started snowing again today!!!! I guess that means I'll need to go buy more dirt and flowers!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The New Conspiritors

If you have been involved with any church with in the past 10 years you've probably noticed some new "buzz" terms floating around such as "the emerging church", the "monastic movement", "mosaic churches", and the newest "missional church".

Most the time I laugh at all these terms because in some ways it seems they are all trying to do the same thing. Or it seems like a trend that will die off and be replaced by some new term. More out of skepticism rather than a desire to learn about these movements, I picked up "The New Conspirators" by Tom Sine which just came out not to long ago. I was pleasantly surprised. Tom does a fairly good job summarizing what each movement is about and the heart behind each movement.

I'm not necessarily ready to jump on board with any certain movement...but I like the challenges each of these movements pose to the church at large in America.

The Controversy Over Wright

I have to admit that while I haven't followed this political controversy closely at all, I have been curious to get a fuller picture of both the sermon snippets floating around the media as well as the man behind the statements. I was glad to finally find a program that looked into this controversy a bit more than just a 30 second sound bite.

While the statements are still hard to hear, the context was extremely helpful to hear. If you're like me and want a different take on this whole controversy than what the mainstream media is offering, I recommend taking the time to watch this interview. It's a bit long but I think worth it. And I think it offers some food for thought for those who of us who are Christian.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Wedding: New York Highlight #3

The main reason we went to New York was for Matt to photograph a co-worker's daughter's wedding. The wedding was a lot of fun complete with the bride and groom getting covered in silly string after their first dance. I guess that's a family tradition that we found out about after the fact. You can see some of Matt's favorite wedding shots at his photo blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Modern Diner: New York highlight #2

As mentioned before, Wellsville is a small town. Being such it took Matt and I about 15 minutes driving around trying to find some sort of breakfast place. You'd think it'd be pretty obvious where the local cafe's would be...but I guess you have to be a local to recognize them.

Anyways, the one we found was great! Not only could you get an omelet, toast and coffee for $4.35 (when was the last time you have seen prices like that), the coffee was amazing! So amazing that we had to go back the next day just to get the coffee and enjoy both it and the atmosphere.

The restaurant was called The Modern Diner, complete with not so modern decor, the locals to match, good coffee and instructions on how you should behave while there. If you're ever in Wellsville, I'd highly recommend this place.



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

All things Gucci: New York highlight #1

On the van ride from Ohare to the parking lot where we left our car, we were joined by a British family with two small children (ages roughly 2 and 3). The following conversation insued (please read with strong british accent).

Mummy, "ok, boys now we got to go get the car."
3 year old responds, "how will we find our car mummy?"
Mummy, "well, do you remember what color our car is?"
3 year old excitedly, "BLACK!"
Dad turning around from the front seat: "nooooo...our car isn't black, mummy would never get a black car" then with a smirk in his eye and in a hushed voice, "unless it was a Gucci".

Sarah's trains of thought during this conversation...
Thought #1) Wow
Thought #2) This kids have no idea what Gucci means...I wonder if they'll grow up with Gucci being a norm in life.
Thought #3) Hmmm...maybe I should market this idea to Gucci. Purses, cars...they really arn't that different from each other.

It was a very funny conversation...made more so by the accents. However the conversation was nicely resolved by the mom piping back at the dad that she "would never get a black car...even if it was a Gucci". The world is now back in order.

Oh, and when did Gucci make cars? I missed the boat on that one. Guess I'll have to come up with another brilliant idea to sell to a giant corperation.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New York

This past weekend we were in New York for a wedding shoot. It was Matt's first "destination" wedding. And my what a destination it was...Wellington, New York. Where is Wellington, New York you may ask? We didn't know either. But it's a small, small town (I think it might have actually been a village) on the western side of New York near the Pennsylvania boarder.

The town was fun, local people interesting, wedding beautiful and weather excellent. I'll post some of our highlights over the next few days.

But now it's back to normal life which means Matt is off again traveling for the week. This week he's in Chicago conducting interviews at Northwestern College.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hunger

Great Bill Moyer's video journal on Hunger today in America. Since it seems like this is an issue that is only going to increase...it's worth looking at now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I never thought...



...I'd say I'm glad to smell the scent of fertilizer in the air again.
Spring is in the air, and some flowers along the road.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What does my husband do when he's traveling...

Go to a beach with another man!

Matt had the chance to get up at 5:00am this morning and go catch the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean. While I'm sure he'll pay for it later today :)...I'm sure it was good for his soul.

His trip is going well and he's gotten to see history (former slave markets, plantation houses and things like that). For us as Californians, this is a lot of history we've only read about so I'm sure it's been interesting to actually be in these places and hear stories about the impact that part of history has had and is still having on that part of the world today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

travel prayers

Matt is off once again. This time to Charleston, SC. He'll be there for a few day's on a video shoot documenting a specific InterVarsity chapter and what they have done with the topic of multi-ethnicity.
Finn is also off (our Norwegian roomie) and about. He was a bit more ambitious and went to Thailand for a week.

If you thin of it, please keep them both in your prayers. Matt has still been fighting a stubborn cold and I'm hoping the airports germs wont make him worse. You can pray also that he will be able to film with God's eyes and not his own.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pray and Nehemiah

So this weeks Sunday study was on Nehemiah's prayer to God. Overall it challenged me to consider if there is anything that I would care deeply enough about that it would cause me to pray in earnest for four months!

Nehemiah heard of the desolation that Jerusalem was still in and he was moved deeply to pray. In many ways I understand that as I hear of friends in anguish or situation around the world. There is often a gut instinct to fall before God in prayer. However, what struck me this time is that Nehemiah continued in that prayer for four months! We only get of three paragraph's of Nehemiah's prayer, but it sums up what he prayed to God over the course of four months. It makes me wonder how much his prayer changed during the course of that time. Did he begin by praying asking God to fix the situation. Did he ask God to send other's to rebuild the city? I wonder at what point Nehemiah began to ask God what he could do?

It's so much easier to pray for God to fix a situation or pray that He would send others to fix what distresses us. It's a whole other thing to ask God how he wants us to be involved in the situation. To do that is just down right scary. But I wonder how much more God desires us to pray that prayer. To ask how we can be used.

I think about some of the prayers I have prayed for four months or longer and know that I have not always asked God if I was a part of the solution. Or even if there were ways he wanted me involved. I'll be curious to hear God's response as I begin to shift my prayers and ask how he might want me to be involved in the situations I care deeply about.

Monday, April 07, 2008

April Prayer Letter










Above you will find our newest prayer letter. Click on each image to view and if you currently do not receive our prayer letter via mail or email but would like to...please let us know!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Favorite New Short Film

A Ninja Pays Half My Rent. How cool would that be?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Planning to be Spontaneous

It has occurred to me today that since leaving a college lifestyle...I haven't been as spontaneous as I used to be. I don't just go to a fast food joint at 10:30 at night anymore. Or call up someone to see if they want to catch a movie in 5 minutes. Everything has become planned out in advance by about a month! I think I'm going to need to plan a spontaneous day in June. Or does that defeat the purpose?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Photos Up on Matt's Photo Blog

Matt has some fun pictures up on his photo blog from this past weekend where his photo group went out to practice taking pictures of the same subject with different lenses. It was a funny day overall. Matt challenged himself by taking pictures of only people meaning that he had to interact with them. And I sat at a coffee shop and randomly began talking with someone who ends up is a former roommate of my supervisor (this confirms my thinking that Madison is a very small town).

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Just God

One of my highlights each week is leading our adult Sunday school class at church. It's actually kind of funny cause it's me (a presumptuous 27 year old) attempting to teach 3-5 wonderful ladies (none of whom are under the age of 55). To be honest it's been one of the most humbling experiences in my life.

Anyways, this past week we were looking at Abraham's conversation with God where God decides to tell Abraham of his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham then goes back and forth with God asking God if he would spare the city if 40 or 30, or 10 people are found to be righteous. A few things stood out to me as we went through the passage.

1) It's really cool that God decided to tell Abraham his plans. God didn't have to do that....so he must have done so for Abraham's behalf. It makes me wonder if I'm close enough to God that he would consider telling me his plans.

2) God starts the conversation and then ends the conversation which I think that's pretty cool. I've often felt God prompting me to pray...but it's not very often I've felt God end the conversation.

3) I've always looked at this passage as Abraham bartering with God trying to convince God not to destroy the city. But I'm not so sure anymore. The study referred to a comment made by John White that Abraham's prayer "is not as some scholars suggest, a mere reflection of the bargaining practices among traders in th east. Abraham has nothing to offer in trade with God. More over the stakes are to high. He is not haggling with God. He's desperate to understand God." To understand God's sense of justice. To understand God's mercy. To see if God really is a righteous, fair God. And Abraham seems convince that God is not unjust or unfair and seems to leave the conversation in peace. As I think of how messed up the world is today...this passage does give me hope. That God will take care of things in a just/righteous way.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Memories


Having Larry (our Jeep) die on us due to a bad alternator.
Matt eating food for the first time in a week.
Enjoying the company of friends and lots of sugar.


...and Snow.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Hours of Entertainment

Ran into this on a friends blog and love it. I'm glad I'm not taking the SAT's anytime soon.
freerice.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thought provoking read

Great blog entry by Scott Bessenecker about the sins today's church often ignores. The biggest one being gluttony. Considering how much Jesus spoke about money, I have to agree with Scott. Read Scott's entry titled "A Theology of Sex, Food and Money".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Credit Card Debts

There's an interesting documentary called the Secret History of Credit Cards cards that Frontline on PBS did. It's worth watching...or at least taking their quiz to see how much you know about your credit card.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Passover reflections

My least favorite part of the Seder meal is always eating the bitter herbs (aka horseradish). If you've never tried raw horseradish, it's one of the most potent tastes God ever created. It's bitter, it's hot, it makes me tear up, it lingers in your mouth nostrils and clothing and makes me want to gag or spit it out immediately. It's not something I would ever just sit down and eat.

This year I've been struck by how great a parallel horseradish is to sin. In it's raw form, horseradish is not enjoyable. Yet mixed in with mayonnaise, sliced deli meat, some tomatoes and lettuce and put on a nice toasted bread bun...it's less noticeable and perhaps even a bit enjoyable. How true is that of sin. In it's raw pure form, I doubt any of us would ever embrace sin. Yet throw in a little church, your family, work, TV, the gym, pomegranate blueberry lattes, sin doesn't taste so bad.

As we head towards the crucification, the horseradish is going with me. I want to remember that is was for no light thing that Jesus died. Sin is bitter and something I need to be freed from. If you're feeling like you've forgotten or become jaded to the bitterness of the slavery/sin that Jesus has freed you from, I suggest opening up a jar of horseradish and taking a big bite.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Only my husband...


Would find a way to break his "non-breakable" tungsten wedding ring. And how might he have done so? By jumping off a cliff to save a baby? By fighting a ferocious pit-bull who had attacked his wife? By breaking glass with his bare hands? Nope...by knocking on a window trying to get someone's attention.

Word to the wise...tungsten can actually break! All I can say is I'm so glad our marriage isn't based on a wedding ring and I'm glad the ring shop (who was likewise quite amused that tungsten can break...supposedly it's the first time they've ever seen this happen) is replacing the ring for free.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring

5 days of 40 degree weather. We're pulling out the shorts!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Prosperity Gospel

I first saw this over at servingbread.net and was impacted by it so I thought it worth sharing. There are some painful truths in this video that I'd rather ignore...yet given that Good Friday is coming up, it's something worth reflecting on.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The River Pantry

Our church bible study has recently gotten involved in a food pantry ministry in town. It was humbling to go and be there last Friday night and once again be reminded of how much I have. Some of the facts I've been learning about our city are equally humbling: 15% of Madison's population live below the poverty line which is roughly 33,000 people. The poverty line as defined by the US Census is $15,735 for a family of three in 2005. And I thought I had a hard time living just by myself on a bit more than that for a few years. Use of food pantries in our county has increased 34% since 2001...and I'm only guessing that this year it has increased even more.

Helping serve food that night, I'm reminded again how much easier it is to ignore poverty and just focus on my own "grumblings" and frustrations with feeling like I do not have what I should. Ignoring poverty seems to make my own grumblings much more valid. Which at that point I realize how human I really am.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Passover

Tonight I spent cutting up dates and walnuts to make a wonderful paste that will be used in a passover celebration in a few days. (yes, I know Passover is not until next week, but it was the only night that worked for everyone). In preparing the materials and food for this Seder get together, I amazed once again at how intricate God is and was in this simple tradition. The symbolism is so rich, the dialog of the Haggadah (meaning narration or recital) inspiring. And it's all gotten boiled down to a simple cracker and sip of grape juice every first and third Sunday of the month.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to celebrating Passover. If anyone is ever interested in getting a copy of a Passover meal, let me know.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

"Letters to the Church"

Christianity Today has a great collection of letters on their website to the various churches of today by

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Things that testify

Last night at bible study we finished up going through the book of James. One of the verses that stood out to me the most was, "Your gold and sliver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire." (James 5:3). It's a pretty upfront verse. And while it's a bit out of context, I couldn't help but think of all my "gold and silver" and the ways those might testify for or against me. I usually don't think of my things testifying against me but it's a challenging thought to think of them doing that. What would our Jeep testify about? What would my clothing or couch? What would my bank account testify to? Or even worse, when I get to heaven, will there be more "things" or people there to testify for or against me. I would hope that there would be more people there to testify for me.

It does make me rethink how I view my things.

Monday, March 03, 2008

History

A recent post from a friend over at ellensjourney.org/stranger caught my eye as a history geek. It's a website called mapsofwar.com and has an interesting collection of maps in regards to recent and past wars and religious/governmental trends. It was worth the good 45 minutes or so I spent on it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Surviving the text messaging world

This is for you mom and dad.
Thought you might want a handy list of abbreviations. :)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

American Gangster

We rented "American Gangster" last night and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Overall very well done and a good glimpse at the reality of the drug world and how complicated it will ever be to combat it. It was also nice to see Hollywood portray someone taking a stand for what is right as well. I feel like that's something that I haven't seen in a while.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Greek Conference

Here's a second hand glimpse at the latest conference Matt and 2100 got to help staff and tech. Overall it was a very good conference where over 500 people attended earlier this month. click here to read update

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Back to School

Great thought provoking documentary about differences school children face around the world. Worth watching. click here

Friday, February 15, 2008

80inches

So what is one supposed to do with their life when it has snowed about 80inches within the past 3 months? We're still trying to figure that one out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Madison Obama Rally


Matt's perspective: Since I have never been to a political rally and we are hosting an intern from another country, I thought attending the Barack Obama rally in Madison last night would be a cultural experience. We waited in line outside in the bitter cold for about 30 min, raced to barely get seats, waited another hour and a half for a 30 min speech. This is an interesting country we live in. Aside from any political feelings for and or against him, Barack is an amazing speaker; articulate and personal...like a small town pastor speaking to his congregation. It was a lot of fun and I am really glad I went but a little disappointed my request for a press pass was submitted to late. Click here to see more photos

Sarah's perspective: So I have to admit, I've been very intrigued and excited about the overall presidential election campaign. I don't remember ever being so excited about a campaign since I was required to pay attention to the Clinton/Bush/Perot debates back in Junior High! Regardless of my political leanings (which I wont divulge here), it was fun to go to the rally. Other than watch a few debates on TV, I've never attended anything remotely resembling this in my life and it was fun to watch a master orator at work.

It's been interesting to see how much the idea of hope/change has become a part of all three of the major campaigns. And while Obama has defiantly capitalized on that the most, all three have in many ways tried to instill a sense of hope in the future. Even at the rally, you could sense how much people desired hope and were looking to grasp a hold of a better future. The fact that more than 19,000 people of a very mix age group showed up, waited in line for more than 1 hour in 5 degree weather just to get in, and then another hour just to hear a guy speak for 20 minutes has got to say something about how much people are looking for hope.

In regards to hope, I do admire what Obama said in regards to hope during his speech. It's something I haven't heard many people (political or non) admit about the reality of hope. Obama stated:
"Hope is not blind optimism. I know how hard it will be to make these changes. I know this because I fought on the streets of Chicago as a community organizer to bring jobs to the jobless in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant. I’ve fought in the courts as a civil rights lawyer to make sure people weren’t denied their rights because of what they looked like or where they came from. I’ve fought in the legislature to take power away from lobbyists. I’ve won some of those fights, but I’ve lost some of them too. I’ve seen good legislation die because good intentions weren’t backed by a mandate for change.

The politics of hope does not mean hoping things come easy. Because nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened unless somebody, somewhere stood up when it was hard; stood up when they were told – no you can’t, and said yes we can."

In today's world, continuing to have hope is something that is not easy. Yet I believe we can still have hope, as long as we are willing to take a stand in the ways God calls us to. I still have hope, not because of any politician but because of God and because of the remarkable things students and the alumni I work with have done because of God's call on their life. While the rally was remarkable, I left saddened that very rarely do you see such similar passion from an entire city searching for hope where true hope lies: the church.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dangerous Act of Worship

The second book that I've really enjoyed as I mentioned in the last post has been the "Dangerous Act of Worship". It's really challenged my idea of what worship should be. Perhaps the most challenging part has been in regards to expectations. The author Mark Labberton brings up the point that so often we are looking to see if Sunday morning church has met our personal expectations that we forget to ask if our personal worship that morning met God's expectations. Whew. That's a tough questions to ask and if I'm honest with myself, I would have to say that more often than not, my worship has not met God's expectations. Most of the time I never even take the time to ask if my worship on Sunday morning or during the week honors God and His expectations for worship. It's a dangerous question to ask...but a worthwhile one.

And the above is all from one small paragraph in the book! The whole book is just as challenging. If you're looking for a good book, check it out.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Book Plug

Over the past month I have read two books that I would recommend in a heart beat: "The Dangerous Act of Worship" by Mark Labberton and "The Living Church" by John Stott.

John Stott's book in particular has been very helpful to me in thinking about by own thoughts towards today's church. In many ways, I sometimes feel I could honestly walk away from the church as an institution (not God mind you) and join more of the underground church movement going on in America. But Stott's book brings me a lot of hope that the American church can change and provides a vision for what the church should be. But more importantly one of the articles in the appendix's clarified for me for the first time the dangers of both leaving the church or choosing to stay in the church. Paradoxical huh? You'll just have to read it to understand. It's made me realize that while staying may not be my favorite option, it may be the more worthwhile one as long as I can guard myself from mentally checking out.

Overall, "The Living Church" is a challenging word and much wisdom from a man who has survived his whole life serving the "church".

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cheese Cake adventures


There are some things that I am destined not to succeed at. Tonight I add with great fan fare cheesecake to that list.

I have been eying a recipe for a double layered chocolate mocha cheese cake for a while. I mean with a title like that, who wouldn't. Two hours later after burning out two mixers and blowing an electrical fuse twice, I decided cheesecake is just not my thing. It's in the oven baking right now but I'm fully expecting it to explode or have the oven fall though our floor into the basement below.

The only good thing coming out of this experience (besides an ugly looking, but hopefully good tasting cheesecake) is that Matt now has some great Valentines Day gift options.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Life Update

Our new house guest arrived safe and sound on Monday. Finn from Norway will be staying with us for the next four months and it'll be fun to learn more about that part of the world. Already, Finn and Matt have bonded over camera's, hiking and have started making plans that will for sure keep us (well for sure them) busy the next few months.

I drove in hail for the first time in my life yesterday. That was fun, it was kind of like driving on marbles. During this experience however, I came to the realization that I think I pray more in the car now that I've moved to Wisconsin than I ever have in my entire life. Other than the 5 minutes of hail...it's been pretty cold. Matt and I like to call it booger freezing cold.

Matt takes off tomorrow for Indiana. He's helping tech InterVarsity's national Greek Conference (for students involved in University fraternities or sororities). Out of all the conferences InterVarsity does, this is probably one of the more powerful and interesting ones. The likely hood of many of these students going on to be politician's, lawyers or some other community leader is quite high so it's my prayer that God will work powerfully in many of their lives and that they will catch a vision of God's plan for this world which includes the many places of influence they may end up in.

Anyways, that's a quick update on the Kirk household.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Day

Martin Luther King day has been one of those holidays I haven't honestly thought much about. Mostly it was the culmination of a week at school focusing on the Civil Rights movement in America and more importantly a day off of school. But today I happened to watch a commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Wisconsin State Capitol and was struck by several things.

The first being that this holiday still remains one of the few non-commercial holidays left in our country. This was pointed out by one of the key note speakers. That struck me as significant because of my second observation. That this holiday often has more powerful religious/spiritual undertones and a call to action according to what is right (aka what God honors) than Christmas or Easter. At least this was the case with the commemoration at the capitol.

It was hard not to walk away from watching this program without feeling spurred towards surrendering my individualistic tenancies to pursue action and the greater good. I admire King for the legacy he has left this country and am grateful his prophetic voice and vision given to him by the God he trusted still has the power to call people to action and bring hope that change is possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Did you know?

At chapel today at work, they quizzed us on university's around the nation. See if you can do any better than I did:

1. What university was founded by the American Baptist Education Society and the oil magnate John D. Rockefeller?
a. Harvard, b. U of Chicago, c. Boston U or d. Emory?

2. Athletes were known as the Fighting Methodists?
a. Duke, b. Oberlin, c. USC or d. Syracuse?

3. This school was founded by evangelist and abolitionist Charles Finney.
a. Oberlin, b. Northwestern, c. Harvard or d. U of Illinois?

4. In 1868, daily chapel was required, Sunday worship was required and a lecture by the President on topics such as "Was Jesus more than a man?" and "Is Christianity true?" was required at this university.
a. Cornell, b. Duke, c. U of Virginia or d. U of Illinois?

Answers: 1. U of Chicago, 2. USC, 3. Oberlin, 4. U of Illinois. It's amazing how much has changed within the college world.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Politics

I have to admit that I haven't been keeping up with the current political happenings as well as I probably should...but Matt and I watched Bill Moyer's Journal last night on PBS and were really challenged by what we heard and saw. The two segments are both on line and are well worth the watch if you have an hour.

The first interview with Kathleen Hall Jamison was very informative. She mainly is commenting on the New Hampshire race and some of the craziness that went along there. Mostly it was nice to get a slightly less mainstream look at the race there.

The second interview was with a guy named Shelby Steel. This one was quite provocative as he basically critiqued Obama and the role race is playing in this election. Overall, the interview is more of a blunt look at the reality of race in America and how much mistrust still exists for both blacks and whites. As a Christian, it challenged me to think about the ways I myself am prone towards mistrust and made me realize how little I acknowledge that mistrust or submit that to our Lord. While I am still very unsure of Obama in general mainly because I can't seem to figure out for sure his stance on what I feel are more of the bigger issues (such as education, HelthCare/Social Security, our current shaky position as a country in the rest of the world), it did make me realize that out of everyone running, he's probably the one who is and will be under the most scrutiny, pressure and attack. And that has got to be a hard place to be. This one is well worth the watch.