Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whoa-oa-oa those Wildwood Days

Wildwood, New Jersey.

I'm coming back!

Going on a [CRU] Summer Project to Wildwood in 2006 was a significant summer in my life.  It was pivotal in shaping the way I view life, faith, God, friendships, food (everything should be deep fried -- including Oreos), etc.

...and now, 5 years later, I'm going back!  As staff (ouch, that feels old).

I never want to forget where I've been -- for the very places I have been are the very things that have shaped my story today.  I'm thankful for the chance to go back and stand in the very places I remember as significant and life-changing.

2011 Wildwood Summer Project website:

And just a little blast from the past:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Getting Authentic...

warning: this post is about to be written in haste.  I can feel it.  And I know I'm gonna want to erase it in a day or so when my rationality takes back over my mind.  But, for right now, I want to be authentic -- authentic about the jadedness of my heart.

Speaking of authentic...what's the deal with that word?  It's a buzzword that seems to have permeated every conversation of Generation Y.

We want to be authentic people.  People who honestly share our hearts, thoughts, feelings, etc.  We want to portray ourselves as true as possible.  We admire the genuine; we're beginning to abhor the false and fake.

And I think authenticity is beautiful.  I really do.  I think the truer, the better.  Truth is radiant and attractive.  Deception is ugly and repulsive.

But what happens when we begin to covet it?  What happens when we put the idea of authenticity above the actual person?  What happens when we begin to make authenticity into an idol in our lives?

I feel like we've begun to make authenticity a synonym for brokenness; meaning, if we're not broken and messy and verbal about it, we're probably being fake.

And I have a hard time with this.  I have hard time fetishizing authenticity and brokenness.

I think we've become so consumed with this term of "being authentic" because it is in our authenticity that we feel most known; we feel most cared for; we feel most ourselves, etc.  Feeling known, cared for, and as most ourselves as possible are valid needs that should be pursued and sought after.  I want the brokenness of my heart to be tended to, I want every one of my tears to be valued, I want my thoughts heard, I want the weight of my baggage to be carried and shared by others, etc.

But what if I feel most known when I'm with others singing Mariah Carey ridiculously loud in my car?  Dancing barefoot in the kitchen?  When I'm bent over, busting-a-gut laughing?  High-five-hugging celebrating the things of God?  When I'm silent, sharing a cup of Caribou, while reading?  Climbing mountains in Estes Park?  When I'm sharing a pool raft and Kenny Chesney overpowers any ability to have a conversation?  When I'm dressed to the nines in our scarlet & gray, watching the Buckeyes win another BCS bowl game?  When I'm silently sharing the view of the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean?  When I'm sharing about the hilarity of past experiences?

Of course there are moments when I share about my seemingly ship-wrecked past; the hurts of my soul in a world that ravages; the dreams that could have been but won't ever be; the hopes deferred; the unfulfilled longings, etc....

But...What if it seems my most authentic moments are in my joys and are associated with celebration and laughter?

Does that mean I'm shallow?  Maybe.
Does that mean I'm out of touch with reality?  Maybe.
Does that mean my heart is deceptive even to myself?  Absolutely.

But I think it's when we are most alive that we feel most known.  And doesn't God desire life for His people?

In the life He desires for us we will most definitely experience hurt, suffering, and seemingly unending tears that should be shared with dear friends.  But to glamorize, fetishize, and idolize authenticity that only plays itself out in brokenness and mess is a dangerous trap.  To identify as counterfeit our joys, celebrations, dances, and laughter is to represent life with Christ as down-trodden and without hope.  And those are two words I am vehemently opposed to characterizing my life as a follower of Jesus.

Dear Authenticity, may your definition no longer be cheapened by just simply serving as a synonym to brokenness and mess.  But may your definition be restored and redeemed to its fullness.  May we find it fitting to use you in our brokenness and in our joys.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is He Really All That Great?

I really never thought I'd post much of a message from a pastor on this blog, because I think that can feel a bit presumptuous -- and maybe it does indeed.  However, I can't help but post this message from quite the dude, Louie Giglio.  My mind was pretty blown by the things Louie presents here.

So, whether you consider yourself someone who follows Jesus, a spiritual seeker, a skeptic, or even totally jaded by the idea of spirituality, I'm curious if you may find something striking in these thoughts.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mubarak peaces out

The chains have been loosed.  May Egypt celebrate in wild fashion!  May the Egyptians experience redemption in its truest sense.  May Egypt inspire freedom.

An Open Letter to American Churches

I found this letter, posted over at RELEVANTMag, super thought-provoking:

A writer returned to the States after years abroad, and started looking for a church. Here's what she found.
[Editor's note: Mentanna Campbell recently returned to the United States after serving as a missionary in France for years. She started looking for a church. And then wrote this letter.]
Dear church members,

I am looking for a church. I’m already a believer, so I’m an easy catch. You don't have to convince me that God exists or that it is important to come to church regularly. I’m even one of those in the 20th percentile who will be actively engaged, eager to serve in my giftedness. I really want to find a church home (and soon), but I confess this search has been harder than I expected.
I see so many things that make me want to turn around and walk out the door.
Oh, I know that no church is perfect. I’m not searching for that. I guess I have just been surprised at how awkward it feels to be a visitor, and I wonder if you really remember what it feels like to be in my position. So this letter is just to give you a peek into what I have been experiencing as I go from one church to the next. I know those of you who have been in church for a long time forget how hard this searching process can be. So take a moment and hear me out. I think I might have some helpful suggestions for your church.
Please don't set up a visitor welcome center and then not welcome guests when they show up there. Pick wisely the people who staff that center. I know it is easy to get talking to people you already know, but I really think the welcomers should keep themselves available so they are ready to help a newcomer the moment they show up to ask questions. I mean, I’m happy to eavesdrop on your conversation about Sally's driver's test for a couple of minutes, but after that I get a bit restless. We visitors already feel a bit conspicuous, so don't make me wait too long to find out where the sanctuary is and if that coffee you are offering is free or not.
Please don't offer me cheesy gifts for coming to visit your church. I don't need Starbucks gift cards or fancy pens. And for sure don't offer me a copy of the U.S. Constitution along with a 10-minute diatribe on why I need to vote biblically and morally. Your gifts feel like bribery to me. They make me feel like you are selling an image instead of offering a place to belong. I want your authenticity and commitment to Christ to be that which draws me back, not the promise of another book or CD. Give me a Bible if you want because I might not have one. Offer me information on your church to take home and read. But please don't treat me like the only single girl in a room full of ready-to-marry bachelors. Let's just say I’m more interested in who you are than how you look, and I won't walk down the proverbial aisle until I know for sure that we are destined to be together.
Please talk to me. Don't give me an inquisitive glance and then just walk away. Don't forget that visitors don't know anyone. We feel like we stick out a bit anyway. Come up to us and shake our hands. Introduce yourselves. Ask a few good questions. Nothing is worse than spending over an hour surrounded by people and not having anyone say anything to you.
Please include on your website what to expect if I come to your church. I need to know how to dress. I need to know if my kids go to the service with me or not. I would like to know most of that before I come so I can be prepared to entertain my kindergartner during your 45-minute sermon.
Please don't force me to fill out a visitor's card. Don't make me write down any information, especially if I have already sidestepped your first appeal to get me to do so. I don't want to hurt your feelings, so don't make me have to keep coming up with excuses. The truth is that I’m not going to fill out anything until I am sure that your church might be a real option for me.
I know you have a lot to do. I know people are busy on Sunday morning trying to get their kids to Sunday School on time or trying to get in that last-minute conversation before the service begins. I know you want people to join and be a part of your church. I know you can't always be on your game. I’m just trying to help out, trying to let you know what it feels like to be on the other end of your hospitality.
Thanks to all of you who genuinely welcomed us, who walked us to the sanctuary, who actually sat with us and introduced us to others. Your kindness ushered us into His presence, and for that we are thankful.
I love you, church. I really do.
Your searching sister,
Mentanna Campbell
Mentanna Campbell is a blogger and a mom who is looking for a church. This article was originally posted on her blog and is reprinted by permission.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Peace in the clamor

Remember when you were in the band in 5th grade?  Remember when you thought you rocked at the trumpet?  Remember when your mom wore earmuffs around the house when you practiced the trumpet?  Remember when your band teacher placed you as last chair?

No?  Oh wait, maybe that was all just me.

Regardless, let's be honest...the 5th grade band isn't Mozart's symphony.  In all likelihood, most 5th grade bands are a clamor of noises.  A bass drum hit here.  A trumpet toot there.  A clarinet screech all too often.  A trombone mishap every now and then.  It was bad.  It was a bunch of noise chaos -- with our sweet parents sitting there in the stands just trying to make sense of it all.  Was this supposed to be Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, or the Ohio State fight song?  We were never really quite sure.

I've, in recent days, felt like my parents sitting in the stands, listening to our band's ruckus and trying to make sense of it all.  The world has lately felt like a 5th grade band concert.

Sometimes quiet murmurs, sometimes loud roars resonating in my ears: My parents have communicated, for 24 years, I should be "this."  My friends have said that I'm "this."  I've dated guys who have said I'm "this."  I've listened to songs who insinuate I should act like "this."  I've watched movies who say I should be "this."  I've read books who communicate I should be "this."  The list goes on and on.

I'm beginning to find it exhausting.  My soul was not created for clamor.  It was created to know peace.

I'm turning the strings of my soul and tuning it to hear the voice of its creator.  The voice of the one who knows very well who I am, who I "should" be.

The clamor will continue, I'm well aware of that.
But may my soul find its identity in who my creator has said that I am.  For who knows better an object than its artful creator?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just for kicks...

sometimes we just need a little pick-me-up in this bluesy month of choice of pick-me-up today: