Tag Archives: thoughts

Advent, revisited.

My poor, neglected blog.  It’s already Advent again, and I haven’t written anything in months.  But, it’s because I’ve been busy – waiting.  But actively waiting – making preparations for a wedding in the new year.  Isn’t it strange how sometimes waiting feels active, and sometimes it feels passive?

I was in a meeting with a staff a couple weeks ago where I talked about the difference between actively waiting and passively waiting.  And I realized, that passively waiting feels most powerless, and it’s where my heart goes when I’m tired.  Anyway, the actively waiting has been very busy – and while I’ve had lots of blog-worthy thoughts, there has not been much energy to write.

But now I’m procrastinating during a seminary paper and thought I’d just put this up here.  I have a thing about Advent, and not listening to Christmas carols during it.  It short-circuits the waiting, I think.  On December 1, someone told me “Merry Christmas!” and that December was for Christmas music.  I beg to differ.  Most of December is for Advent music.  The waiting, sometimes active, sometimes passive – the difficulty, the day-to-day.  Too often our American Christianity focuses only on the easy, the celebration, the triumphant parts of the faith.  And there is so much more than that.

Anyway, to help me remember that, I have listened to my Advent playlist from last year – reposted below, but with an additional song that I added after posting this last year.  Makes me smile, looking back on that late add – but it means more to me than romantic love – in the end, the truest love prevails.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”   (November 21, 1943) – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1. The Laugh of Recognition – Over the Rhine – ‘c’mon boys it’s time to let it go // everybody has a dream that they will never own… it’s called the laugh of recognition when you laugh but you feel like dyin”

2. Bitterness Hotel – Martha’s Trouble ‘well i don’t know how I got here, it’s not where I want to be’ (a lovely band I met in college – they moved from Houston to Birmingham)

3. Long Lost Brother – Over the Rhine – ‘I thought that we’d be further along by now // I can’t remember how I stumbled to this place’

4. Only God Can Save Us Now – Over the Rhine ‘who will save me from myself and the night’

5. Remembrance – Balmorhea my favorite hometown band – I especially love 2:20-4:00 here.
6. The Waiting Room – Sixpence – ‘when will it happen, baby? // it could be near, but then maybe it could be far // here we are in the waiting room of the world’

7.The Cure for Pain – Jon Foreman – ‘I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled’

8. Some Peace Tonight – Martha’s Trouble ‘Let me run and hide from the fear that is in me // My head is spinning and I need some peace tonight’

9. First Breath After Coma – Explosions in the Sky 3:20-4:20 is a great section, but for this playlist, the 4:20-5:30 is right on, and then the melody at 5:30 always sounds a little like ‘o come let us adore him’ to me…

10. Windmills – Mutual Admiration Society (orig. by Toad the Wet Sprocket)‘there’s something that you won’t show, waiting where the light goes // and anyway the wind blows, it’s all worth waiting for’

11. The Revolution Choir – Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band there is a land it is full of giants // but do not lose step and do not be frightened // cuz there is a great fire, it came from the mountains // we wait in the watchtower, just tryin’ to keep it lit //it cannot be too much longer’ (I miss singing this with my Mosaic family.)

12. All is Full of Love – Death Cab for Cutie (orig. by Bjork) ‘you’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of… you have to trust it’

13. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples – ‘got my hand on the freedom plow, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now // keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

14. Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton ‘Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on // But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone …//  oh sweet Jesus if you’re listenin’ keep me ever close to you // As I’m stumblin’ tumblin’ wonderin’ as I’m travelin’ thru

15. Tension is a Passing Note – Sixpence but tension is to be loved // when it is like a passing note // to a beautiful beautiful chord’

16. God Believes in You – Jill Phillips (orig. by Pierce Pettis) ‘when you swear you don’t believe in him // God believes in you… blessed are the ones who grieve // the ones who mourn and the ones who bleed // in sorrow you sow, but in joy you’ll reap’

17. Brave – Miranda Stone Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at you, you’re being brave

18. Up to the Mountain (MLK song) – Patty Griffin ‘Then I hear your sweet voice, oh // Oh, come and then go, come and then go //Telling me softly You love me so’

19.  True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston, covered by Mates of State   Don’t be sad, I know you will // Don’t give up until // True love finds you in the end


the stuff of life (or not)

I’m moving apartments this weekend.  It’s just up the road a little, about a mile and a half.  But this move should be a lot easier than last time – I don’t have to pack so sturdily, and there’s not as much emotional attachment to this apartment.  In fact, I’m ready to start over – now that I have some more footing in California – I’m ready to be in a new place.

I just packed up my guitar, and remembered that when I drove out I had put only the most important stuff in my car.  Besides some clothes and stuff for arrival, I packed in my legal documents, bike, guitar, computer, scrapbooks, a teddy bear, friend Carrie, and a thick file folder of all the sermons I’ve ever given.  [I print my sermons out and scribble added things in the margins – they’re always better after giving them.]

In a way, I miss that simplicity.

I’m grateful for all the other furniture and clothes, etc.  but apparently, when it comes down to it, I care about just a few things.  And even those things, I could live without.  I am not the sum of my stuff – houses I own, sermons I’ve given, or great hobbies.

That’s reassuring.


2 posts in half a day?  What’s going on?  Well, I had some more thoughts. 🙂

On my lovely bike ride home tonight I decided that I will believe that transition is a really good thing.  Sounds simple, but that’s a big deal for me – I’ve been well-trained to fear change, especially when right now most of what I can see in front of me are the things and people I’m leaving here in Austin.

BUT there are some very good things to be excited about – and I started making a list of things I’m looking forward to so that I can also be thinking about the things that are just around the corner!  Ahem, so in no particular order…

  • learning new bike routes, lovely bike rides home, and being able to ride all-year round
  • getting to know my new area and regional staff teams – learning to love, lead, and serve staff in a new context
  • being a part of growing IV ministry in the Bay Area
  • really really yummy Asian food all-around  (There are no fire ants in california, and the streets are paved with asian food?)
  • being in coffee-date distance of dear friends I’ve never lived near!
  • finishing up this master’s degree – I’m looking forward to taking Greek, Hebrew, homiletics, etc.
  • hanging out with redwood trees and going to see otters
  • reading a book on the balcony at my new apartment
  • being super close to fabulous west coast destinations like Vancouver, Oahu, Seattle, Portland, Yosemite, LA, etc.
  • proximity to the ocean and mountains
  • Trader Joe’s

Feel free to add more things I should look forward to in the comments. 🙂

Oh, and another way to look forward – I will be choosing happy music for the remainder of packing time.  Exceptions can be made if the situation warrants, but default will be happy music.

*Califorward motto created by Kate the Great.  All Rights Reserved.

now playing:  Need A Love – Dakoda Motor Company – yes, more music I uncovered today. 🙂

of bike gangs and spin class

With cooler temperatures and better health this past fall, I’ve been able to ride my bike a lot more.  My new(ish) location makes a commute to church or work much more doable (at my old house, it was 7 miles each way to the office, now it’s more like 3.5 each way).  But what has really made it possible is bike gang friends.  There are friends at my church that are commuting by bike for lots of different reasons – convictions about cars, trying to live simply, it’s fun, it’s cool, it’s exercise, etc.

After several invitations over the summer, I was finally able to go ride with a ‘bike gang’, and we rode 13+ miles! (my longest ride ever, at that time).  A rambling jaunt of 2 hours, with some stops for coffee, an attempt to dumpster-dive some bagels, and a stop at a friend’s house where we gathered one more person. 🙂   I hadn’t ridden with people before, and felt like I was suddenly in the tour de france – one shaky turn and I could bring down the whole pack!  But it was great fun – getting to talk with my friends while riding, speeding up, slowing down, talking with different people at different times.

When the weather was really bad and I couldn’t bike commute, I went to a couple spin classes.  If you’ve been to one, you know – they are SO INTENSE.  There’s a lot of cycling that happens, they don’t have odometers, but I’m sure we go far.  We sweat a LOT, more than I ever have on a bike gang ride.  And the instructor is yelling encouragement.  We ride fast, we listen to thumping music, and yes, we probably burn a ton of calories.
But I’ve been thinking – what really taught me to love biking is the bike gang rides, not the spin class.  Sure, in a spin class we work out and burn more immediate calories.  But for the long-term, learning to figure out what roads are good to ride, learning the practicals of locking my bike, etc, those make me a cyclist for life.  Getting to learn from others, enjoy time together, and have fun… that’s really what puts me on the journey for the long haul.

In a spin class, even with friends, there’s no talking – there’s no spare air!   The spin instructor isn’t going to go out to show you practicals – he/she is just yelling instructions and giving a good workout for that time period.  Being in community is what shows me the joy in it, gives practicals, and encourages me to ride on my own even more.
This has parallels with the ways I think about ministry and community.   The most amazing speaker in the world can tell you things, and it may feel phenomenal in the moment, but we need community for the long run.  That’s not to say there’s not a place for spin classes or good speakers – but we can’t rely on that to be the only thing to keep us going.  One of the many reasons I love my job is that I get to foster and encourage Christian community amongst college students – to set them up well for the long run.  Here’s to more “bike gangs.”