Broken-down Poetry: 2008


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Word

At my resident hall's Christmas banquet, I received a "paper plate award" from my RA--something everyone in our dorm was granted as something both goofy and sentimental. The title and picture of the award, scrawled with crayons on a paper plate, reminded us that we are unique women with different gifts and talents. (Or that someone has a very obvious obsession worth taunting.)

But my award summed up my entire three-and-a-half month college experience; I received the "I'm in Love with the Old Testament" award.

Now, I didn't know I was in love with the Old Testament until I took the history course as a gen. ed. It turns out I am pretty intrigued by this whole "first covenant" business. I even love it enough to have written songs about the kings of Israel and Judah ... to the tune of Disney favorites.

I have a pretty good memory too. So if someone mentions King Jehoram in casual conversation, I can rattle off a few facts about him, like that he died from a fatal bowel disease and that no one mourned his death. You know, stuff like that.

But since the class ended, I knew that I had to move on. I can't live in BC times forever. So instead of delightfully reading the minor prophets before bed, I have made myself move on to the New Testament. (Granted, the first book back-to-the-NT was the book of Hebrews, but it was a step in the right direction, no?)

But then, alas, I finished that book as well. And though I was tempted to read Romans, which is also filled with a lot of Jewish history, I chose the book of John. Yip-ee.

The book starts so familiar, bringing me back to the Hebrew Scriptures: In the beginning ...

But it's a little different: In the beginning was the Word.

The Word.

I've heard so many sermons on this chapter that I was tempted to move on to the good stuff--when John starts quoting Isaiah and the prophets. But I kept reading.

The Word became flesh and made its dwelling among us.

A few Sundays ago my pastor Steve talked about this passage. He said that the Word was so powerful that it brought things to life. With one breath the LORD spoke the earth into existence. Without the Word, there's death because all life comes from the Word. He went on to say that God does not talk, he speaks. Every word has purpose; every word holds meaning.

But that was nothing.

Wait until the Word put on flesh.

Words aren't enough. Pastor Steve compared it with email: it's easy to sound eloquent and sophisticated in email--or blogs--by using labyrinthine rhetoric. (ha.) But it's hard to show emotion. It's difficult to be yourself when you can sound like anyone you want in text.

But in person ... that's a whole other story. By showing up, people can sense emotions and can feel love not restricted to just verbal communication. A hug, a kiss, an eye roll, a wink, a smirk, a hair-toss: they cannot be expressed through words on a computer screen. A loved one's smile is much more meaningful than this :-).

When the Word becomes flesh, it's powerful.

Things start to make sense.

If God only spoke on the mountain like he had to Moses or in a bedroom to Samuel, man's concept of the divine would remain restricted. God had to send someone--flesh and blood--to give it meaning.

To take the Word and turn it into a picture. Into a lifestyle.

For some reason, the Law wasn't cutting it. "God needs a body."

He needed someone to show what God's looking for, someone to exemplify his command to act JUSTLY, to love MERCY and to walk HUMBLY with him (Micah 6:8).

And God knew that the Word wouldn't be enough soon after he made creation. For two chapters of Genesis the Word brings life, and by chapter three he promises Flesh: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15).

That Seed being God-in-flesh.

And what intrigues me even more is that the promise holds more weight than some later prophecy. The Hebrew word for seed is zera', a masculine noun translated as "offspring," "children" or even as "sperm." God will put an enmity between you [man] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed [sperm]."

Funny, I didn't know women had that stuff.

We jump to the book of Isaiah with his prediction of the virgin (alma) birth. And then to Luke chapter one with Mary and her husband-to-be, a son of David.

The Word became flesh and made its dwelling among us. Not as the prophets had, not as the priests had, not as kings had or the Levites or Nazirites. But in his own unique way: from a virgin's seed.

In the "hustle and bustle" of the holiday season, it's so easy to view Christmas as just Jesus' birthday, like yours or mine. But this is something much bigger. This is "Let There Be Light" healing the sick and walking on water; this is "I Am" overcoming death.

This is the Word that spoke the earth and sun into existence wrapped in rags and placed in a feeding trough.

And this is what Christmas is about:

the Word putting on skin, coming down to earth to "pitch tent" in order to visibly show God's love.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I love/hate Christmas

"I hate Christmas."

After my mom confessed that truth, I marveled--slack-jawed--at the bitterness of her comment. How can anyone hate Christmas? Who hates candy canes, egg nog, corporate Christmas parties, jingle bells, stocking stuffers, Hallmark original movies, wearing red all the time, tinsel, 24/7 holiday music on the radio, shopping and snow storms? I mean, those are pretty much the ingredients to happiness or something.

But then I started thinking ... maybe I hate Christmas too.

Trying to find people the right gift is harder than you would think. Especially with the standards of previous Christmases and birthdays. My best friend Ashley gave me an hour phone call with my favorite author for my seventeenth birthday, how am I supposed to match that? Give her an hour with the pope?

And the Christmas specials on TV? Please. All of them have the same theme: some old scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas or some self-pitying 30-something finds true love. They're all the same.

And those family Christmas parties? Thanksgiving was a month ago. Really, how much has happened in that short period of time? I suppose any family gathering is fine if no one brings up politics. Again. (Knock on wood.)

See. I really hate Christmas. It's awful. It's so fake. And consumer-based. And dumb. And. And.

So I lied. I love Christmas. I mean, we have our problems, but I really love her deep down inside. I just don't think I love Christmas the way I loved her when I was a kid. I couldn't sleep a week before Christmas because I kept thinking about the my-size-barbie or giga pet I asked for.

And I just don't think I love Christmas the way I know I'm supposed to love her, for the ultimate gift: the Messiah. I'm trying to revel in the miracles, in the prophecy and everything else surrounding the birth in Bethlehem. But I can't. I just don't seem to get it yet.

The Israelites were doing okay without a Messiah. I mean, sure they turned from God every other king or so, but they got right back to it. They just needed a good leader. A David or a Josiah or a Nehemiah or something. God still took them back. He forgave them.


Last Christmas I decided to not be so materialistic. I had just finished reading Blue Like Jazz by the one-and-only Don Miller, and I was convicted. I tried not to want so much, but at the same time I wanted to be grateful for what I received. Even that was hard. It was hard to believe I had enough. No more, no less.

Maybe you can label my relationship with Christmas as love-hate. I want to love her for the right reasons, but I love her for the wrong. I want to hate her for the right reasons, but I hate her for the wrong.

New plan: I am going to make the most out of this Christmas. I am going to learn how to love her for the Messiah and I am going to learn to hate her for her materialism. I am. Or at least, I'll start to.

My mom just apologized to me for her holiday blues. She said she had a little breakdown. She doesn't hate Christmas, just all the pressure of social gatherings and pleasing others. I understand. I feel the same way.

With love,


Sunday, December 14, 2008


A few months ago I thought it'd be really cool to be disillusioned with the world. I wanted to be like a post-WWI expatriate or like Franny Glass from Salinger's novel. I pictured myself in a bar drinking a Shirley Temple slurring my life story to the bartender, telling him over and over again how much I liked eating the cherries at the bottom. (I'd be faking the banter, of course, because I'm drinking a non-alcoholic beverage. The bartender is too distracted to notice.)

I decided a few months ago that I no longer cared about being prude or blameless, I wanted to dress like a whore and cuss the crudest words. I typed out a few cuss words that night. I felt a little better, but not a lot.

Then I decided I was going to marry someone at least ten years older than me ... someone who was just as disillusioned as me so we could complain together about this godforsaken world we live in! and about how no one understands us! Or something like that. I don't really know what disillusioned people complain about, to be honest.

And then I realized that I am not disillusioned. I am actually quite optimistic and forward-looking and hopeful. I just wasn't happy with where I was and who I was among at the time.

A few months ago I was just starting college. I chose an extremely conservative Christian university to attend, not thinking much about all the rules that entailed. But I have always been a rule follower. I have always been the "good girl," the teacher's pet, the leader at youth group, the favorite daughter. (Don't tell my sister.) I figured I could handle whatever this university threw at me.

Except ... I couldn't. That's where all this disillusion came from. I thought this school would be my "comfort zone": Christians around other Christians talking about Christian-y things. But I really don't like that. I especially don't like the pressure.

It turns out there's no such thing as a cookie-cutter Christian. One week of college told me that. There are cliques here at Christian schools, you know, but all of them have the word "Christian" before them. The "Christian" preps, the Christian jocks, the Christian hipsters, the Christian nerds, etc.

I found it much like high school, except there's that pressure of being "on fire for God." Not only do you need that place to fit in ... you need to prove your worth as a Christian: "Hi, my name is Lauren and I read my Bible every night."

So into the first month of school I had pressure from all sides: to find friend and to be "on fire for God." Neither were really working. I had friends, sure, but none like the ones at home. I loved God, sure, but I wasn't healing people in Jaheezus name!

I began to realize that I did not like this. I did not like feeling of being judged by these Christians, whether they really were judging me or not, and I hated that it was hard to find friends at a Christian school. So I decided to become a Christian expatriate. I wrote down those cusswords. I started writing a novel about that bartender.

I figured that the reason I felt so disconnected with those people was because I just didn't fit into their club. There are Christians and then there are Christians. I must have been part of the latter, those who look, smell and act Christian but aren't really. I don't follow their code of ethics or something.

I really wanted to break my school's rules because I thought that would prove that I was not like the other Christians in my school, not just "kinda not" like them. Once I decided that, I found myself really bitter toward my roommates' opinions. I made sure that I found a flaw in whatever the speaker said at chapel. I really had become disillusioned with the world.

And it was ugly.

I know the first few months of college are supposed to be hard. I know there's a lot of homesickness and stress and fear ... but I didn't have any of that. The only thing I was really afraid of was myself. (As cliche as that sounds.) I didn't like how I "measured up" against the Christians around me.

I would have killed to be the Christian hipster or the Christian prep. But I knew I wasn't. I was the "Christian outcast." I cared too much about where I didn't fit in instead of seeing where I did. I got too caught up in, what the apostle Paul calls, "civilian affairs." I was losing sight of my true identity and instead looked for it in others.

And so here I am. The semester just ended, and I can only hope that I am closer to the person I am supposed to be. A friend told me once that we can never really know our true identity, but I don't know if I believe him. I mean, maybe not to the extent God views us, but I know that I can be closer than I am.

I know most people don't follow their New Years Resolutions but I am going to make one anyway. This year I want to see myself the way God sees me: as a woman of God, passionate in what she does, a creator, thinker.

"This is my voice, all shadows stayed. This is my heart upon the altar laid. Please take all else away. Hear my cry, I beg I plead, I pray. I'll walk into the flames, a calculated risk to further bless your name. So strike me deep and true, and in your strength I will live and die both unto you." ("Identity Crisis," Thrice)

with love,


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

... but look on the bright side.

a poem. by Lauren.

I had to give my speech this morning instead of Thursday ... but some kid is buying me coffee to make up for it!

The sound clips in my Thrice speech didn't work ... but some guy played Image of the Invisible on his laptop after my speech!

I forgot to make a cover page for my COM outline ... but I ran to the Mac lab and printed off a copy in time for class!

The speeches in COM were deathly boring ... but I got a candy cane!

I waited in line for an hour to register for classes ... but all of the classes I wanted to take were still open!

I had to get signatures for two of my classes ... but I got new ear buds in the mail!

I got my new ear buds stuck inside my printer (ugh, long story) ... but Haley and I got to go to all the boys' dorms to find a gentleman with a screw driver!

I went to the front desk five times trying to find the right screw driver ... but there was a guy down there that liked my Thrice t-shirt!

I spent two hours before dinner attempting to retrieve my ear buds ... but I learned that I still have over 30 meals and 100 points on my card!

They ran out of ranch dressing in the salad bar line ... but they had stuffed ice cream in the demo line! (like Coldstone!)

I have a lot of homework still to do ... but the adrenaline of the day has helped me chug through it!

The top half of my SD card went missing (um, don't ask) ... but I found it!

The Lord takes away ... but the Lord also gives and gives and gives!

the end.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the antiblog.

I used to be honest-gut honest-without fearing what people said or thought about me. When I was an underclassman in high school, I posted blogs about how much I loved God and how Satan sucked. (And I said it quite eloquently, I might add. Just kidding.)

And then I began writing makeshift poetry. As a sophomore I would collaborate songs and poems with my own words to form what I called a blog, but it was really just a collage. And as a junior and senior I began to write editorials, examining my faith versus the religion I'm taught at church and the life I tried to hide behind. I asked questions.

But now, I can't bring myself to do any of that. I am embittered, but I just argue; I am dry, but I don't cry to God. I am stale. I have forgotten how to blog.

I don't know what I spend so much time thinking about. I'm not pondering some deep philosophical question or imploring God on the great mysteries of life. I think about what people are doing. Their hairstyles. The shoes they wear.

Dear Lord, what's wrong with me? I have fallen into a routine of study, eat, sleep, watch movies (or Colbert) and sleep some more. Is this the life you have called me to?

What about teaching me to love? What about speaking your Word like Ezekiel? What happened? Who am I?

I wish I knew.

I wish I was who I thought I was a few months ago.

I wish I would die to self-will already.

I wish I could realize stuff with Amanda again.

I wish I knew what I was doing.

I'm going to keep trudging through. The beauty of a trough is that it's the lowest point--it can't dip down any farther. It's only up from here.

On to victory or underground.,


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


When Jesus said "Love your neighbor as yourself."

We befriended the outcast.

We served at soup kitchens.

We volunteered for children's church.

We sent money oversees to Africa.

We raked our neighbor's leaves.

We tithed.

But when it comes to loving those people who are different than us ...

Who are a different religion.

Who are a different race.

Who are in a different political party.

We limit God's command.

Why have we forgotten God's calling?
"And what does the Lord require of you? To act JUSTLY and to LOVE MERCY and to walk HUMBLY with your God." Micah 6:8b

You may not like our president, but he has been chosen by God.

The same way God chose King David, Solomon, Josiah.

The same way God chose King Saul, Ahab, Manasseh.

Lose the hatred.

Start caring about what's on God's heart.

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday. " Isaiah 58:6-10


It’s the desire of my heart
It’s the anthem of my birth
I love you 'til you cross the line
Then watch my faith turn into works

Saturday, October 4, 2008

From Canton with Love.

I should mention that I'm not a spontaneous person. I am a planner. My reoccurring nightmare features me late for class or late for work because of unlikely situations that barricade my path.

But I am also an opportunist. This forms a sort of duality within me-one half involves risk taking adventures, while the other stays at home and make lists. So when this whole RELEVANT ordeal came about with less than a week to react, both sides of me got antsy, but for different reasons.

I am an official RELEVANT College Advocate, my goal being to spread the good news of RELEVANT around my campus. (I know that sounds like a self-proclaimed title, but there really is such a thing.) Because of this, I was given the opportunity to pass out magazines at the Art*Music*Justice Tour.

Luckily, most of the little details got sorted out. I chose the location I wanted to work at (Canton, OH), I had the money to go, a place to stay the night and a whole playlist of music to entertain me for 300 miles. (I should mention that I still didn't know exactly what I was doing once I got to the show until 5 minutes before I left my dorm room. I even had to call ol' Chad from RELEVANT to get that sorted.)

I left after chapel on Friday and planned to get to Canton by 5:30, and I planned to arrive at the concert fifteen minutes early and planned to get to Amanda's dorm by midnight. I have heard several times that God laughs at our plans or something to that degree. I don't know how much he laughs exactly, but he does like to screw with them a little bit.

The drive was fine. I have a nice internal map in my head. Sam used to tell me how I always knew exactly where stores were in the mall back home. I just knew that since the mallway was in a big circle, eventually you would come across what you were looking for. I think my sister's compliment went to my head. I am convinced I'm good with directions.

I found the building okay. The AMJ Tour website told me the address of the church, right across from the dirty McDonald's I tried to eat at. It was at a college campus, Malone University, a small private school like my WU.

It was past the time I was supposed to be there (6:30) but only by a minute or so. If I were to grade myself on punctuality, I'd give myself a 4 out of 5. So, I entered the back door of their PAC and wandered the hallways until I found an office.

I went into the office only slightly panicky (what's a few minutes, really?). I told them who I was and what I was there for.

They had no idea what I was talking about.

A concert?


They logged onto the concert's site, pretty sure that I was in the wrong place. They found the true location of the AMJ concert: First Christian Church.

OOOOOH! They said in unison. Turns out FCC moved out of the building we were in a year ago. Noticing the panic rise a notch, a man in a suit jacket (I think his name was Rick) ushered me out the building, telling me over and over again how FCC was only down the road four miles. He gave me directions, wished me luck, and I got into my car. I re-graded myself in punctuality: 2.5 out of 5.

Rick told me to take a left at the T. I took a right. I turned around. I saw a dead end. I turned around. The numbers got smaller... they were supposed to get larger. I turned around. I panicked. Punctuality: 1 out of 5.

I somehow got to the church. I walked the classic I-only-have-10-minutes-to-get-to-class-on-the-other-side-of-campus walk (which I don't practice enough I noticed due to the shortness of my breath). I went to the ticket people and, once again, spilled my story. I don't think it made any sense.

Once the ticket-ers could understand my babbling, a woman named Claudia took me to find my booth.

Wait, where is it?

Claudia had no idea where this infamous table was, so she took me backstage to find a Mr. Troy Groves who, according to ol' Chad, knew what was going on. Troy was not around, so I was brought to a room with refreshments. Claudia told me to eat, giving me a water bottle and offering lasagna.

Another woman, Kristin, was in the room as well. I told her my story, still with a little adrenaline kick. It was like when King David (prior to his kingship) was acting like a madman at Gath so he wouldn't be recognized. It was a lot like that, except that I wasn't acting. I was a little frantic and a little foolish (I did just drive 5 hours to work at a booth that didn't exist) . . . but suddenly my Gath-moment halted when Derek Webb entered the room.

This was the guy that played on the podcast a few years ago, who was on the Mar.-April 2006 issue of RELEVANT magazine. He's the guy quoted in one of my favorite books, Jesus for President. I had this guy's CD! (Or at least I did until I gave it to Goodwill.)

And boy, he was a lot shorter than I had imagined.

Then walks in Sandra McCracken. Then Sarah Groves.

Suddenly my driving around confused for a half hour was worth it. I was here. I was among very incredible musicians--I felt renewed.

Soon after that, Claudia talked to Troy about the magazines and he said they'd get them out. . . eventually. (How ominous.)

So I bet by this point you must think I am a little crazy. Perhaps a little Gath-crazy (as I now choose to call it). So... what am I doing here?

See, this very dilemma led me to ask myself that age-old question: If RELEVANT asked me to jump off a bridge, would I do it? I am a poor, jobless college student who spent five hours driving through Ohio, got lost in downtown Canton, trailed a just-as-confused FCC member, and sat awkwardly at a concert alone. . . .

Yes, the answer is yes.

Meanwhile, Claudia had me watch the first half of the concert since the table wasn't set up. She gave me her backstage pass and permitted me to eat whatever I wanted. Really, I just wanted to stay in the back room until Brandon Heath came by. Then I would propose marriage to him. Okay, not really.

The concert was amazing. I would go into detail, but you can read a pretty thorough review of it at (SHAMELESS PLUG!) But it was amazing. I haven't felt so close to God since I've been at IWU. I think that is the problem with a Christian school. It's hard to find the sacredness and mystery of God when you have to go to chapel three times a week. (I'll blog about THAT later.)

Intermission. I found Claudia once again and we went to look for my table. Still not there. We went back stage again, walking through a dark corridor that led to the refreshments table.

Footsteps behind us.

Brandon Heath. Claudia introduced herself as the event coordinator (and a very helpful magazine-hunter if I do say so myself) and told him my problem. Oh, I know where the RELEVANTs are.

Brandon Heath saves the day!

He set them out at his merch table and I did my duties of taking out every single subscription card and stacked them in a neat pile.

Back to the concert.

Once it was over I finally got to work. And I'll say, RELEVANTs go like hotcakes. Subscription cards do not, but that's not my fault. The economy sucks, that's why only a few people took them. So why not just blame Bush. (And my readership just got cut in half.)

Brandon was signing autographs right next to me. Now, I don't have time to go into this, really, but I have to say that Brandon Heath is the nicest musician I have ever met. Usually when people come up to tell them about a song they've written, the musician just says coooool and move on. Not Brandon. I think he's co-writing a song with a thirtysomething guy from FCC. Not to mention the guy who liked Brandon's watch. Brandon took it off his wrist and gave it to him.

I reconsidered that marriage proposal.

We packed up, I said my goodbyes (and got a picture with Brandon). Claudia and a few women from the church insisted that I didn't drive two-and-a-half miles to Ada to stay with Amanda; they had an extra hotel room, paid for and everything.

I sat in that Holiday Inn, writing the beginnings of this blog. My mind was reeling with excitement, but my heart was so low and lonely. Why did the day progress like it had? I got my answer on the way to Ada, while listening to a little Jon Foreman. (And my roommates roll their eyes. . . .)


If you made it this far in the blog, I commend you. I'm pushing 1500 words now, about five pages double-spaced if this were a paper. Stay with me. I actually learned something this weekend.

God has been teaching me about loving people, about finding what Shane Claiborne calls their "sacred humanity," looking beyond the Lifeboat, and realizing that we are ALL created in God's image. Black. White. Pretty. Fat. Short. Lazy. Whatever.

God had told me this on the way to my sister's apartment a few months ago while I listened to a new song by a Mr. Brandon Heath: Give Me Your Eyes. God wants me to stop being so selfish and obsessed with comparing myself to others so that I can see people the way He sees them. I finally saw the connection.

I got lost in Canton for a reason.

If I knew where I was going and had arrived on time for the concert, I would not have been so reliant on people. The advisors at Malone University took time out of their schedule to help me, a kid who didn't even attend their school. They didn't have to do that.

And Claudia, God bless her. I followed her around and asked so much of the other members of First Christian Church. I owe them. It reminds me of Jesus' command to give even just a cup of cool water to a little one who's thirsty. They gave me so much more: a whole water bottle full, a hotel room, a tee shirt and most of all mercy.

These people showed me mercy. They didn't know who I was.

But they cared.

I want to be like them.

God reminded me that I don't have to be in Africa serving the poor to love people. I can do it here. I can do it by asking my friends how they are doing, or offering help when a problem arises. I know I'm being vague, but I don't know all that God has in store for me. But I am willing. I want to be a servant. I want to learn to love.

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Everything, everything.

A light and fluffy blog because I don't feel like thinking.

It's been a long day. There is a reason why most people avoid 7:50 classes. I understand that every morning when I hobble out of bed and nearly fall into the shower, turn on my Jon Foreman music, and doze off on the plexiglass shower door. Trust me, I regret my class schedule every day.

But, before I get too far off on a tangant, I wanted to share with you all my long-term goal as a college student. A mission statement, if you will. (Side note: the concept is there, but the rhetoric hasn't been perfected.)
I want my college experience--my going-to-class, homework-ing, studying, note-taking--to be my spiritual act of worship.

This is what I am doing, and whatever I do should be for God's glory. Thus, I am going to worship God via my devotion to my studies.

Seem a little twisted? It's not, really. God wants me to live to my full potential (my favorite NLT verse: "I want to be all that Jesus Christ saved me for and wants me to be"). Right now, I am a student. All that I can be right now is a follower of Christ and a student. ("Student" is pretty broad, really. But let's not go there. I'm tired, remember?)

So there.

What does that look like? It looks like me studying for my COM115 class, no matter how much I don't want to. It means reading the goshawful OTH book and taking notes on it. (Bleh.)

Anyway, just some food for thought. I'll end with a verse from The Message. (Sorry, Paul.)
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him." Romans 12:1

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why do you believe?

I'm debating on what I should talk about. What's been on my mind lately has been relativism. But I don't think I'm ready for THAT blog. I have a lot to think about still. Don't worry, I'll get back to it eventually.

In light of relativism, however, I do want to explore the age old question of Why Do I Believe What I Believe? Because, to be fair, I can't tell you what I believe about relativism before I understand why I believe what I do.

So back to the basics.

I believe Jesus is the Son of God because...

As Pastor Paul would allude, there are different stages we're at in our Christian journey: Childhood, Adolescent, Young Adulthood and Adulthood. Each stage answers that italicized question differently.

The Child:I believe Jesus is the Son of God because the Bible says so and my mommy and daddy told me that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and they said that if I say I'm sorry I will go to heaven and heaven is really cool. My Daddy said there I can eat aaallll the cookies I want. I love cookies. And cookie monster. I love Sesame Street.

Interpretation: The Christian child (and I'm saying that they're a physical child as they are spiritually) believes Jesus as their Savior because their parents did first, or possibly a Sunday school teacher or camp counselor. They do not go "searching for Truth" as a teenager or adult would--it's presented before them. I think it's fair to say that a seven-year-old will put his trust in Jesus if his parents told him to. That's the nature of a child: to believe what Mom and Dad say.

Also, a spiritual child (I'm going beyond the physical age of a child, but one that is new to Christianity) tends to have limited knowledge of Christianity. Their focus may be on salvation only or the forgiveness of sins, rather than any more complex Christian concepts.

The Adolescent: I believe Jesus is the Son of God because the Bible says he is and I have put my trust in him. So far I haven't had any reason to doubt him. Most of my friends believe in God too, and they go to my youth group. The ones who don't believe in him I try to get to go to youth group. I love learning about deeper stuff in the Bible like eschatology, the gifts of the spirit, angels, prophecy, and those crazy stories in Judges about fat kings and women with tent pegs. Sometimes I don't like youth group because it's dull and the music sucks. My friends and I like to come up with ideas on how to change it so that it won't be dry, but that doesn't really work.

Interpretation: The adolescent Christian (again, I'm speaking of age rather than just spiritual maturity) has an understanding of what they believe more than a child. They understand the basics and then some. Whenever there are trials, there seem to be only two responses: they either run to a friend or youth pastor for Christian guidance (and thus stick with the faith) or search for God in something different than religion (drugs, sex, friends, video games, pop-culture, etc). I don't want to say that all teenagers' faith is flighty, but even I had to rely on my peers and my mentors to keep me from falling from Christ. I needed Tom to remind me who I am (a leader!) and Ashley to keep me from willful sins.

A teenage Christian's spiritual undulation tends to reflect that of the youth group. Pastor Paul said this to the college age group, and though I hate to admit it, I think it's true. When one person felt dry, the rest of the group did. I remember Ash and I wasted hours of sleep talking about how we were going to "fix" youth group because it felt so dry. Everyone felt dry. And when we were on spiritual highs, everyone else was as well.

The Young Adult: I believe Jesus is the Son of God because not only does the Bible say so, but because I have committed myself to him, and I have seen the work he has done in my life. I don't always understand why I still sin sometimes or why evil is so prevalent in the world, but I will still rely on Christ. Sometimes it's annoying that I can't logically explain or understand God, but I guess that's where faith comes in. It's hard, but I'm going to trust Him anyway.

Interpretation: A young adult Christian has a firm foundation for what they believe. They have let God move in their life enough to see it in themselves, not just in the ebb and flow of the youth group. Young adults have the questions; they know they don't always have the answers. Some may struggle with always needing logical evidence for what they believe (i.e. ME) or others struggle with understanding why bad things happen to good people, but they are okay with not having all the answers. (Or, well, mostly okay.) They ask the questions, look to the spirit for guidance, but rely on faith to get them through.

And so comes the "Adult Christian." But frankly, I am not one and I don't think I could explain thoroughly because of that. I could make some guesses as to what an adult Christian is like: one that has solidified their faith enough to accept answer-less questions, or one that can expand other spiritual "age groups" to understand others. I don't know. If you have answers, feel free to comment.

I guess I just want to understand where I am at and where I am heading. I want to know my questions are normal. I want to know why I believe what I believe. Is it because of my Sunday school teachers, or my youth group, or truly because I believe it?


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Liberal Christianity

Let me start off with a verse: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified..." (I Thessalonians 4:3a)

We have talked a lot about this verse this week, in chapel and in this (goshawful) book I'm reading for World Changers. God wants us to live a blameless life, free of willfull (intention) sins. That makes sense.

God can and will save us even if we sin intentionally (which is where Grace comes in), but God really, truly desires us to be free from all sins. Especially ones we realize. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:13)

So let's talk about what I call "Christian Liberalism": the act of doing what culture says is fine, but many Christians have problems with. Not the blatenly sinful (adultery, murder, unforgiveness, rebellion) but the grey areas. The nitty gritty.

What about cussing? To me it's a personal conviction not to cuss. I don't like it. I don't think Christians should cuss. But honestly, to use Todd's argument, the Bible doesn't specifically say "no cussing." And Jesus does call the Pharisees names. But it's not a heaven vs. hell issue. Words hold power, as my COM 115 prof tells me, but to be honest, saying heck instead of hell isn't much better. Think about it.

In Jacque and Ricky's Bible study we talked a lot about how one man's convictions may not be another ones, like my issue with cussing. I, for one, have no problem watching R rated movies. I like a lot of them. But I know people who won't watch them or are very careful in choosing what to watch.

Who's right?

I think about back in King David's time and how men practiced polygamy. I think it's interesting that God never made a law about that. (Or did he?) I mean, God created one man to be with one woman, right? But good ole Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Is that practicing sexual purity illustrated in the New Testament? Not so much. Did God just "approve" because culture did?

That I don't have the answers for, but it makes me want to look at issues like cussing and movie watching in the same way. What makes sin a sin if God doesn't step in and tell us one way or another? Can we really just rely on personal convictions?

There is a Christian journalist I greatly respect, who after years of being a youth pastor then a writer, decided to move away and pursue a job as a bartender. Yes, a bartender.

Since I have built up respect for him, so to speak, I don't see anything wrong with his career choice. So what if he serves people alcohol for a living? But I know some people would be morally against this.

But what if this guy used it as a ministry? Or what if he's just surrendering to the culture of this age?

Who knows, and frankly, who cares?

I guess my question is, where is the line? How holy does God want us to be? Perfect, I know that answer, but what makes one thing acceptable for one but not another? Can we justify "cultural sins" like polygamy in the OT days or, say, pirating music in ours?

I'm just asking the questions, I don't really have an answer, nor do I expect my audience to give me one either.

Maybe I'll come back with more in a few days.

Until then,


Saturday, September 6, 2008

First things first

First thing's first.

Indiana Wesleyan's "Verse of the Year" is Matthew 6:33: "Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these things will be given to you."

On our first chapel, Umfundisi talked about how we need to get our priorities straight. What's consuming our time? Are we worrying about who's on Facebook instead of schoolwork? Are we watching volleyball games out the window instead of reading our Bibles? (Heh. Heh.)

I decided to commit myself to this, signing a piece of paper and everything.

Then Wednesday night happened.

I am having a blast at college, really, I am. But I had a rough night on Wednesday. I was writing my first paper (yes, it was loads of fun) and out of nowhere my "c" key just started typing. I had random c's all over my letter to Shane Claiborne. (And yes, that was my assignment.)

It was 11:20 at night. I had class at 7:50am.

So I took the key off.

In hindsight, not the best idea. I have taken keys off before--I had a sticky m a while back--but usually I get the suckers back on. This stupid c would not go back on.

I spent a half hour trying to get the thing back on. I failed.

The next day I went to IT. Right when it closed.

The c's kept appearing. The key was still off.

And God said to Lauren, "First things first."

I let things escalade too much. I got the wrong book for a class, I need more school supplies, my ice tray can't fit in my freezer, this chinese food is too salty!, c's fall off... and I make a big deal out of them all. Oh please. Get over it, girl.

This is my first semester of college. My goal is to not be overwhelmed with stress, to be on top of my homework so I never have to pull all-nighters or cram for tests.

For those of you in school or have full-time jobs, I challenge you to do the same. Don't let the little things get you down. "Don't sweat the small stuff," as they say. When you start to feel overwhelmed, talk to God. He values rest. He created a whole day for it, actually.

Forget about all the c-keys in your life, keeping you up late worrying. It's not worth it. Trust God.

First things first.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Welp, I know who I'm voting for.

I just got settled into school, (and already have tons of stories to tell) but I honestly don't want to waste a good, healthy blog on wildcat news. So you'll just have to ask me in person.

However, there was another big event going on this week--a bit bigger than my college escapade. The Democratic National Convention ended on Thursday with Barack Obama's acceptance speech.


I have been watching the DNC with a careful eye because I know that it's political. And when I mean it's political (because you already knew THAT) I mean that people are crafty with their words, careful to make you feel all the ethos, pathos, and logos of whoever's speaking at the moment.

Prior to Thursday night, I was a bit wary of declaring my party (in this election, not just in general). I just knew that I wasn't ready to declare that my beliefs rest solely on one party's claims. And, I still feel that way.

But, here's the thing: I have been doing my research. I wasn't just taken in by Obama's (truly profound) speech, I started realizing that there are more issues out there that I need to take into consideration.

Yes, I agree that abortion is wrong. Killing babies is never good (hmm unless you believe it will lower crime). I have a problem with the government making the decision on a decision like that JUST because I know that in desperate times, some women will go great lengths to get an abortion. Clothes hangers. Risky drugs.

Now they're not only harming their fetus, but themselves.

But I also believe that war is wrong. War can't be just. I'm sorry, Austin Jett, it can't be. Like the hospital manager in Iraq, as quoted by Shane Claiborne, said, "Violence is for those who have lost their imagination. Has your country lost its imagination?"

I don't believe anyone is beyond redemption. Not even terrorists. (Paul was a terrorist, and he wrote half the New Testament!)

I believe we need to carry each other's burdens, financially even. I know we have a tendency to think that since we're in America, that means everyone else has equal opportunity to strike rich. But it's not true--it cannot be true.

I mean, after reading books like Savage Inequalities, which explored poor school systems, I can't possibly think that someone from a school in East St. Louis possibly has the same chance at "success" as white suburban me.

So what do we do? We help the low income folks. We provide some healthcare, nothing wrong with that. I know that it's easy to think that once someone's been handed a freebie they will always be begging for more. Maybe that's true. But what did Jesus say about the least of these? Jesus was homeless, wouldn't we give him healthcare?*

Now, I hate when people try to convince me I'm wrong in my beliefs (about anything), so I won't try to tell you to vote Obama/Biden '08. Seriously. I just want you to examine more issues than just the one you hear about the most (abortion).

Either way, as a moral person, you can't honestly believe one party is faultless. The question I've got to ask myself is what issues concern me the most right now.

*Don't leave me nasty comments for that. I KNOW there's more dynamics in helping the homeless than just giving them handouts. But sometimes I believe those handouts (money, food, blankets, etc.) could do WAY more good than trying to make someone go through some program to get them out of their financial woes. Why? Because with a handout there's love. Or, there can be love if you show it. Programs don't show love in the same way.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It all started yesterday when I listened to the RELEVANT Podcast. I wasn't going to yet (I like saving it for a long drive or while cleaning my house), but my ole buddy Bryce told me that it was epic. So I did.

Well, I started listening, but when I heard that what was epic was also sad, I skipped to 46:05 minutes into it. To hear that Adam Smith is moving away. To New Zealand. (Who else can make the whaleshark voice like him?)

Now, flashback to May 2007 when Ash and I made RELEcakes for the crew... and I took a picture with my "favorite podcaster," Cameron. So why, do you ask, is Adam's departure so difficult for me? Especially since I've said goodbye to Tyler, Cara, and Jesse in years passed?


I don't empathize very well. In fact, I can muster up just enough sympathy for people to keep my distance while still looking pretty compassionate. But when it comes to empathy--the kind that Jesus shows us (Heb. 4:15)--I suck. I mean, I really do. I relate to Dustin Kensrue (ha, here I go) when he said,

“My personality is somewhat inward looking, and, therefore, I am somewhat selfish and self-centered by nature. I am not naturally a very empathetic person. I would have to say that my burden for broken people comes from the influence of Christ in my life, showing me how to love people like He loved them. I have a long way to go.” RELEVANT Magazine (I don't feel like looking up the issue... but Thrice is on the cover.)

So despite my usual tendency to NOT empathize, I was overwhelmed with concern for Adam's well-being. Again, kind of weird because I neither empathize NOR know Adam.

So, that night I couldn't sleep. This could partly have been due to my Grasshopper Shizzle (blended coffee drink, very tasty) I had 2 hours previous or the bouts of spiritual warfare I had been dealing with. But instead of settling on either explanation, I decided to lay there in bed and grapple.

I woke up early. My mind just kept pouring through random thoughts. What could I have possibly been thinking about for hours and hours on end? I have no idea. It was sickening.

So, this time (though in previous days I would have told myself to pray against the spiritual forces keeping me from sleep--as John Eldredge would suggest I do) I just got up and went on with my day. I told myself to "heed not thy feeling" and keep muhself busy. No thinking about random crap that'll stress me out or sadden me--whatever.

By mid-afternoon I was still feeling the same crappy way I felt the previous afternoon when I realized that Adam was heading adios. Uhm, I don't think that's empathy anymore.

I had a sort of "godly sorrow" there for a while, till Satan took advantage of it and kept those soul-heavy feelings remain.
"Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain. " Ps 127:1a

But, like all good and hardy DESPAIR, I started asking God some questions. Questions, I learned today, are good. We just might not get answers--deal with it.

And I realized as I was praying my questions, that they really all flowed from last afternoon. I mean, Adam Smith is directly linked to RELEVANT (hullo, podcaster/managing editor) which is directly linked to my future. Or, so I always thought.

I've been gung-ho about working for RELEVANT for over a year now and I have never seemed to question that I may not be good enough or passionate enough or whatever-enough to work there. Why have I never questioned that?

I think I have always just trusted that Thomas Friedman quote that said that the PASSIONATE people will get the jobs over the geeks. I'm passionate, I know that. But now I wonder if I'm passionate enough.

And, what if that doesn't matter?

And, what if I don't even like working there? I'll have spent years pursuing a dream that fails me.

And, what about college? What if my professors don't prepare me? What if they don't like me?

And, what if I never find true love?

And, (the scariest of all) What if God changes his mind about me? What if he doesn't want me to be Ezekiel or to change the world or to write and write and write or to be passionate or to be whoever I think I am supposed to be....

The questions kept coming. I know that I just need to trust God--there's no doubt about that. I know what it is to close my eyes and jump, and that's what I'm going to have to do. I don't like it, but if I am truly going to call Christ my Savior, I'm going to have to just go--go wherever he says to go.

If it's to RELEVANT, than that's where I'm supposed to be.

If not, then I pray he prepares me for somewhere else.




Welp, my friend Austin always told me how he listened to Coldplay when he was depressed. Understandable. When I'm depressed I listen to the smooth sounds of The Alchemy Index (Vol. 2).

I remember after the overnight at the church for New Years, after one crappy night trying to sleep in a 20 below zero room, and having to wake up at 6 to go home because a snow storm was brewing, I listened to that disk. I listened to those 6 tracks over and over again until I felt good inside.

Then I went home and slept.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Jacob and Esau

Once upon a time there was a woman named Rebekah. God told her that she was pregnant with two nations, one that would rule over the other. So she gave birth to two boys: Esau first (who's name means HAIRY) and Jacob who latched onto Esau's heel (who's name means DECEIVER).

One day after a hunt, Esau came back famished--I mean, STARVING--while his brother Jacob was making some soup.

"Dude, I'm hungry. Can I have some of your soup?" Esau asked Jacob.

"If you sell me your birthright," replied Jacob.

"Well, I am going to die anyway if I don't get some soup.... what the hay!"

"Swear it?"

"I swear it."


A little while later, Daddy Isaac was dying and Esau was about to get his blessing (another right of the firstborn), so he went to hunt for some food for Pops.

Well, Rebekah must have liked Jacob better or something because she told her younger son to disguise himself in some goat hair to convince blind Isaac that he was Esau to get his blessing.

And Jacob was blessed.

Esau came home mad (and a little whiny). "Bless me too!"

"Welp," replied old Isaac, "your brother stole it. Sorry."

Esau mumbled, "He gets whatever he wants! It's not FAIR!"

"Welp, what can I do?" Isaac said.

"Don't you have another blessing? Like, a spare for a rainy day?"

"Uhm, how's this: 'You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.'"

"Sucky." So Esau held a grudge against Jacob because he got whatever he wanted and no one seemed to care.

Years later, after Jacob had acquired two wives, his own flock of animals, a name change, and a blessing from God himself... he prepares to meet Esau.

Now, expecting to get killed by his grudging brother, he plans on giving him a pretty generous gift, to "pacify him."

Well, when Esau meets him in the road, he runs up and embraces Jacob. All is forgiven.

And everyone lived happily ever after? Right?


You know why? Because somewhere along the way--between Jacob's unfair blessings and Esau's unfair losses--God decides that he hates ole Hairy.
"I have loved you," says the LORD.
"But you ask, 'How have you loved us?'
"Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." Malachi 1:1-3

This passage was then quoted in Romans. In the Septuagint (pastor Paul would be proud) a portion of the passage reads, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:13

And again in Hebrews: "See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son." Hebrews 12:16

I mean, it is pretty bad to sell your birthright (possessions, probably flocks of animals, etc.) for a bowl of soup. That is kind of dumb on ole Esau's behalf.

But GODLESS? Can you really say that? And what real reason did God have to HATE him?

It seems like there were some pretty awful people in the Bible that God could have easily said He hated, but Esau? Is this all about soup?

This kind of brings me back to the question of predestination vs. free will. God can choose who He wants to call and who He doesn't. He can choose who He wants to have mercy on and who He doesn't. (This is taken from Romans 9.)

I feel like this is why certain people go through harder trials than others. God puts us in a certain place for a reason (and I mean this in a fairly broad term: who are family is, our hometown--things we cannot choose). Why should I live in Autumn Ridge while a brother or sister in the faith live in the Chicago ghetto? Why are my friends' parents married while mine divorced?

God has given us the blessing of a good life (a nice home, food to eat, loving parents) so we can use them for His glory... the same way he would expect those without the such things to live for his glory as well.

We should be thankful for our "birthright"--our political freedom and suburban lifestyle--instead of selling it off. We should not forget that God is the one who put us in this setting. I feel like Esau's mistake was mishandling a gift rather than using it for its true purpose. It's so easy to do that.

How often to we spend our paychecks on crap--literally, like video games, DVDs we'll only watch once, midnight cravings for BWW (guilty!)--instead of tithing or doing something genuinely godly with it? Maybe Esau just wasn't a good steward.

So be thankful for what you've been blessed with.

And don't sell it off for a good bowl of soup.



Unlike Esau, Thrice would not sell their souls for a bowl of soup. In fact, they are excellent stewards of their money. A portion of each CD they sell is given to an organization. The Alchemy Indexes sent money to Blood:Water Mission, Vheissu sent money to 826 Valencia (a nonproft educational organization), The Artist in the Ambulance sent money to the Syrenthia J. Savio Endowment (which provides chemotherapy to those who can't afford it), and I'm sure their other CDs sent money as well... but I don't own them to know.

They are sick, They are poor
and they die by the thousands and we look away
They are wolves at the door
they are not going to move us or get in our way

Cause we don't have the time
Here at the top of the world
Yeah we're doin just fine
Here at the top of the world

We hold our own by keeping our hearts cold

Different god, darker skin
They are just not a burden that we like to bear
They are living in sin
Just throw out any reason for us not to care

Cause we're feeling alright

Here at the top of the world
Yeah we're doin just fine
Here at the top of the world

We've learned that money matters most
So we keep our cards held close
Here at the top of the world

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Lion and the Wolf.

I feel like we should start out with a verse: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." James 1:13f

Let's get our brains workin' today people.

Pretend Satan and Temptation are two separate entities. Two living vessels. Picturing it? Good. This is how I view sin (metaphorically speaking I guess. Hang in there with me).

Say you're a good, hardy Christian guy. You are pretty sure if Satan told you to drop everything and have sex with your sixteen-year-old girlfriend (mind you, you're eighteen, not a pedophile) you would not. Of course, you recognized that to be Satan. (Whether it be through a thought running through your mind or a friend egging you on. Either way, you know it's wrong because that's what ye old Bible says.)


Temptation works like this. It's a lot like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It sneaks its way into your life. It's not like blatent ole Satan who comes a-knockin'--NO....

It starts with the desire to, say, watch a raunchy movie. I mean, nothing like HORRIBLE, but say an R-rated movie with lots of innuendos in it (and you're a guy and you get your kicks from all that. Ha, I'm stereotyping). Then your old pal Johnny watches some softcore porn online. Oh then that hardcore. I mean, ya can't get enough. Then you get a girlfriend and, well, you start expecting stuff from her... stuff you viewed in those pictures and vids online.

Imagine a downward spiral.

And yourself plummeting through.

Now that original temptation from Satan (the one you thought was CRAZY) isn't such a big deal anymore. I call this the progression of sin. Pre-marital sex may have seemed like a big no-no back then, but now not so much. Not only that entity of Temptation ceased you, but also the entity of Satan.

And that's a problem. A lot bigger one than letting the wolf in the door.

We gotta be careful. Far too many of us have let the wolf in (not recognizing its fangs under its fluffy sheep costume) and left the door open for Satan to peek his way in. Keep your eyes open.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. " I Peter 3:8 tNIV



Just read the blog. I learned all that from a Thrice song. (Note the title.)

The lion's outside of your door, the wolf's in your bed.
The lion's claws are sharpened for war the wolf's teeth are red.
What a monstrous sight he makes mocking man's best friend.
But both the wolf and lion crave the same thing in the end.
The lion's outside of your door, the wolf's in your bed.

The wolf he howls, the lion does roar, the wolf lets him in.
The lion runs in through the door, the real fun begins.
As they both rush upon you and rip open your flesh.
The lion eats his fill and then the wolf cleans up the mess.
The lion's outside of your door, the wolf's in your bed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

experiencing God

so hold on
hold tight
open daylight
we will overcome

so put away your fear
a morning star will soon appear
and bring an end
to this dark night

This is how I worship God.

My friend Amanda and I were talking about how people experience God differently. For her, she senses His presence when she's talking to people about God (when she's being a "little Christ") and when she's having a strong emotional experience. As for me, neither of those two things make me feel close in God's presence.

I experience God through the music, written word, and logic.

If you've seen the movie MUSIC AND LYRICS, you'd know that the hero (a washed-up popstar) and the heroine (a woman with an incredible vocabulary) join forces to write a number one song. Well, at one point the two have this conversation about what makes a song a song. The hero said the music. The heroine said the lyrics.

I love lyrics. I love the depth an artist can reach just through rhetoric.

When I hear a song that describes God in a way I had never imagined (i.e. 2 of the 3 reasons why Thrice is the best band has to do with their lyrics) I feel Him awakening a part of me.

And sometimes--though not nearly as frequently--I feel God in the melody of a song. The main theme to my favorite movie THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is soul-stirring for me. Whenever I hear it I want to drop everything and run through a forest in a flowing dress.

I can feel something in me stir. I think that's God.

And logic. I find God through organization. Like my dad, I like color-coding, making lists, and having a plan. That's me. God woos me through this (it's kind of a long story, but I'm always willing to share).

So my point of all this is (I know this came way too late) to find how you experience God--and revel in it just a bit. Not to the point of putting that song, word, or list in front of God, but learn how to worship God through them. God stirs your heart when you hear that song or see that sunset or talk to that person FOR A REASON.

Thank Him for it.



Read blog above. Take note of quote in italics.

Friday, August 1, 2008

who's to blame?

It's 4:00 in the morning.

I went to bed at 11:00, watched a little Colbert at until 11:30, then tried to go to sleep. It didn't work. My stomach had been acting funny (hmm could've been that coney dog I had...) and my muscles ached from the shots I got on Wednesday. I sprawled out on my bed hot and sweaty, too weak to turn on the fan, though once I did I got cold again.


I've been reading a book by John Eldredge, his latest, called Walking with God. I used to be a pretty hardcore Eldredge fan. (I even befriended his oldest son on Myspace.) Anyway, Eldredge's focus is on learning how to talk with God and be in a right relationship with Him. He talks about spiritual warfare and the effects it has on our walk with God.

So after my fifth trip to the bathroom, I collapsed back onto my bed and asked myself, WWJED? (What would John Eldredge do?) He would pray against Satan because he was stealing my joy. He was keeping me from enjoying a nice night sleep, from rest after a busy Thursday.

Well, I prayed, God I feel like crap. Please don't let Satan steal my joy. Amen.

And after that prayer I felt ridiculous. I thought about all the reasons why I was sick: food poisoning, touch of the flu, malnutrition, etc. Can I put Satan on the list as well?

I feel like there are two camps, either you believe Satan is directly causing all pain and suffering going on in your life OR you believe in rational explanation for everything. (Sure there are shades of grey, like everything in life, but what's fun about debating that?)

There's some legitimacy in both arguments, I believe. I mean, the Bible does state that Satan "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (I Peter 5:8 ) and that Satan "masquerades as an angel of light" (II Corinthians 11:14) to deceive us. Jesus even calls Satan "the thief" (John 10).

And I understand that in a lot of circumstances Satan is to blame, that he is the one presenting temptations before us.

But, with that camp I think there is some misdirection. I think of Eldredge's emphasis on spiritual warfare--that constant blaming of Satan for everything going wrong--keeps him from owning up to some stuff. It's almost like prosperity preaching: If I pray against Satan in every area of my life, then everything will be perfect. Rather than: My decisions caused this or that to happen, and my selfishness is to blame.

Perhaps, once again, this is just my self-righteousness getting the best of me, but it seems like God does discipline us and really wants some bad things to happen to us--because that's how we learn to trust Him.

I'm just giving this some thought. We all have a tendency to cling to whatever is easiest in life (which in this case would be to blame Satan), but I don't think that discredits the theory for sure one way or another.


[Serious part complete.]


REASONS NUMBER 2 AND 3 WHY THRICE IS THE BEST BAND EVER. (Because I forgot to post a reason after my last blog.)


Okay, maybe not the MOST controversial, but pretty close. Here's the thing: Thrice is NOT a Christian band. If you call them a Christian band people will stab you with knives. Seriously. They will. HOWEVER, lead singer Dustin Kensrue (who writes all their music) is a Christian. A very thoughtful one, at that. And he brings in some of the blatantly "Christian" themes into their music. Like, hullo, COME ALL YOU WEARY is a song taken DIRECTLY from scripture. Along with DUST OF NATIONS, MOVING MOUNTAINS, and a good 3/4 of all their music. And then they have blatantly "Not-So-Christian" songs like Silhouette. (Lyrics read: "Your eyes slit the throat of all I know about myself and this life...") Hmm. Or how about this: "hells black wings did i over perch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold me out and now you all DIE" (The Red Death). Oh yeah, I want to sing THAT on a Sunday morning... not.

But honestly, it gets pretty heated in ye old blogosphere concerning all this. Here's a taste of what the bloggers have to say about The Red Death (which has those really not-so-Christian lyrics):

Belsambar: man... i have always associated the term 'christian rock' with 'annoying rock'.... i have only recently discovered thrice, and i have been completely, 100 percent impressed.

Alcoholic Panda: I hate to burst your bubble, bud, but thrice isn't a christian band. Check their site. It plainly states in their faq that they infact are NOT a christian band. All the some though, they kick a**. :)

SaveJake: Hate to burst your bubble, but while Thrice is not a christian band (proclaims the name of Christ in the music), The writer of the lyrics, Dustin, IS a huge follower, and his struggles with it are dealt in the lyrics. What makes it not Christian rock is the fact that it's just part of his life, and he deals with his life with lyrics, instead of using the music as a way of worship

HolkeyeSF: Who cares. Music is music. Thrice is awesome. If christians want to think of the lyrics in that sense, then why not let them?

Deadbolt: hate to burst all of your bubbles but here is where we discuss the red Death not christianity...SHUT UP WITH THE GOD S***!!! nobody care if they are a christian band (which they arent) so lets discuss the lyrics here not the stupid fact about if thirce is a christian band.

Duffmyster99: every freaking posts that are on thrice....are its a christian its not check their website..blah blah blah.who cares!!

Xfromyourhandx: hate to burst your bubble(s) but you all need lives.. THEY ARE NOT A FREAKING CHRISTIAN BAND NOW STOP POSTING 20 SOMETHING POSTS ON IT

And that's just one of their songs... just read what they have to say about those songs that they COULD play on Star 88.3. Ooh I love drama.


I believe my first reason as to why Thrice is the best band ever talked about the song CHILD OF DUST which is written as a Shakespearean sonnet and is about man's use of the earth's resources and is mirrored with the Prodigal Son story in Luke. Well, SILVER WINGS is even better. This is why.

First of all, how often do you compare Christ with air? Well, never. EXACTLY. SILVER WINGS is the sonnet on the Air EP of the Alchemy Index which juxtaposes Christ with Air. Not only is this a unique comparison, the song fully embodies the analogy. Of the four sonnets on the Alchemy Index, Air and Fire do the best job sounding like the element they are. SILVER WINGS sounds like air would sound like if it had a voice. And, most importantly, the lyrics are gold.
From tender years you took me for granted
(But still I deigned to wander through your lungs)
While you were sleeping soundly in your bed
(Your drapes were silver wings, your shutters flung)

I drew the poison from the summer's sting
(And eased the fire out of your fevered skin)
I moved in you and stirred your soul to sing
(And if you'd let me I would move again)

I've danced 'tween sunlit stands of lover's hair
(And formed the final words before you death)
I pitied you and plied your sails with air
(Gave blessing when you rose upon my breath)

And after all of this, I am amazed
That I am cursed far more than I am praised

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Honor thy (grand)mother and (grand)father.

Again, totally not in the mood to write. Even if I wanted to write, I should work on my online class or trying to get something published, not wasting my time (and yours) blogging about nothing interesting. Sigh. But I'll do it anyway.

I was reading in I Timothy today and there's a lovely verse about taking care of the elderly. Yes, taking care of old fogies. Apparently it's a pretty big deal (or it was back in the day) to take care of your relatives, especially those unable to take care of themselves.

"Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. . . . If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." I Timothy 5:3-8 (emphasis mine)

Now, I love my mom but today more than ever I realized how much I cannot live the rest of my life with her. I just can't! I love when we can sit around watching TV or eat lunch together, but that's about all of Mom I can handle.

Turns out we have a little unspoken deal. When I am a kid (and hopefully when I'm a poor college student) my mom will provide for me. If I need food, she'll make sure I get it. If I need snow boots, well, off to JC Penny's we go! That's in her Mommy Job Description.

But when I'm an adult and she's near dymensia, it's my duty to take care of her. (You know, throw her into a nursing home and all that.)

They cycle is thus complete.

But I wonder if that's what we're supposed to do. I mean, what kind of culture do we live in that we throw our elders into a sterile brick building with other fogies like themselves? Back in the day grandparents lived with their kids until their deathbed--and somehow everyone got along okay.

I'm not speaking out of experience because I don't have any grandparents, nor do I plan on letting my mom live with my husband and me. But it still has me thinking.

Do we honor our elders? Do we discredit them because they're not on the up-and-up with culture?


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A rant. Please enjoy.

The book I have to read for my TUFW online class tells me that I need to consistantly write/blog in order to develop a discipline. And so that is what I am doing. I hope that excites you. ;-)

Today I spent time reading fine poetry. No wait, I was listening to Thrice. Oh... same thing.

I know I lost about half my readership right then because for some reason no one seems to share the same love(/obsession) with Thrice as I have. But anyway, let's forget our prejudice and listen to Auntie Lauren for a little bit.

Wow, I think I lost the other half of my readers.

Anyway, I was reading my fine poetry when I realized that HEY! this song by Thrice is formatted like a Shakespearean sonnet. It turns out that saying that music is just poetry put to a melody was correct about Thrice anyway.

It turns out Thrice has 4 songs written in this format. All four are the final songs on the Alchemy Index EPs. If you knew that already, good job.


So these four sonnets also have something ELSE special about them. They all are written in the point of view of one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, water.

And not only that, all the elements can be juxtaposed with Christ Himself. (But WAIT if you call now...!)

I mean, comparing Christ to FIRE kind of makes sense (think, consuming fire and all that). And comparing Him to WATER kind of makes sense as well (living water n' all that). But EARTH and AIR? What kind of crazy world is this?!

Uhm, it's a Thrice world and we are mere listeners and fans.

-- END RANT --

So for those of you who still disagree with me that Thrice is not the best band ever, I have decided to start an ongoing project called: PROVE TO THE WORLD THAT THRICE IS THE BEST BAND EVER. (Creative name, huh?) Which means this: After every blog I write (unless it's so serious that it'd totally kill the mood) I will list one of my reasons. I know, you're excited. It's called freedom of speech, my lovelies. You must deal with it.

So to begin, I will start with reason number 1:


Thrice wrote a song called CHILD OF DUST which not only is written as a classic Shakespearean sonnet, but it takes a nice spin on the Prodigal Son story found in Luke 15. The song is in the point of view of EARTH calling mankind her "prodigal" who has taken advantage of EARTH's beauty and destroyed it for his own gain. But instead of the Biblical repentance-redemption story, EARTH lets mankind pay for their mistakes. ("A child of dust to mother now return/ for every seed must die before it grows / and though above the world may toil and turn / no prying spade will find you here below") EARTH let's her child die because she believes that may be the only way her prodigal learns. It's not a story of hope, but one of justice. (And I think it's beautiful. Kudos, DK, kudos.)

Dear prodigal, you are my son and I
Supplied you not your spirit, but your shape.
All Eden's weath arrayed before your eyes;
I fathomed not you wanted to escape.

And though I only ever gave you love,
like every child you’ve chosen to rebel;
uprooted flowers and filled the holes with blood;
ask for not whom they toll the solemn bells.

A child of dust to mother now return;
for every seed must die before it grows.
and though above the world may toil and turn,
no prying spade will find you here below.

Now safe beneath their wisdom and their feet,
Here i will teach you truly how to sleep.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lauren+Reading too much=Random Blogs

A freelancer (as I am, is a lot like a Geisha. Now, I don't mean that freelancers entertain Japanese businessmen or give away their mizuage to the highest bidder (thank the Lord for that one), BUT we have other similar qualities. And, in light of rereading Memoirs of a Geisha (again) and loving it just as much as before (would the Chairman care for more sake?) I will entertain you with my comparisons. Enjoy.

1. Freelancers, like Geisha, must make friends wherever they go. A geisha is to be polite and courteous wherever she entertains because a favor may be needed by a tea house mistress or... of course, you want to make a good impression on a man. Men=gold for geisha. Anyway, freelancers must make friends wherever they go as well (turns out people=gold for freelancers. If you don't have any clients you remain broke.)

2. Freelancers must dress for success. Geisha's have really elaborate outfits: a decorative kimono, obi, perhaps hairpins and ribbon. Freelancers must dress professional for their clients as well. Sure there is no "dress code" for a freelancer (because their jobs are rather nomadic) but it's always nice to make a good impression. As mentioned in number 1.

3. Freelancers must always honor their clients as kings and queens. A geisha must always bow and show interest to her client. It's her job, really. A freelancer must do the same. When their client asks for a hideous font to grace their website, the freelancer must use it. (Dang it, I know.)

I probably could continue, but this is just making me want to read the dang book again. Gosh, I need to get a life. OR rent the movie.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Refine hate and love, fall afresh on me. End this crisis of identity.

It turns out I don't know who I am. I thought I knew; I thought I had everything figured out. I was wrong.

Amanda and I were talking about identity, how college is the time where you find yours. I guess that makes sense. That is, after all, what everyone had told me.

Amanda (God bless her...) had one of her "realizations" last night when we were talking. She said that when you put your identity in other people rather than Christ, you're more likely to blame them when you get hurt.

This week (and really this whole summer) I've been wrestling and I haven't been sure quite why. I've been in a spiritual trough, but those have never bummed me out to this extreme (because I trust in the temporary state of the season). I think it's because I don't know who I am.

It turns out I have been looking for my identity in everyone and everything but Christ. I've looked for it in my friends. And, already, I have begun looking for it in my future career.

I know who God has called me to be (what to do with my life), but that only tells me about what I am going to do, not who I am. So I'm going to find out.

I want to go to Tinker Creek to find out, but that's not exactly realistic. I don't live in Virginia. And I hate camping. Hmm.

Anyway, I think college will do my some good (ha, who would've thought?). In the meantime there's a thing called prayer and a thing called journaling. I shall see where that gets me.


This is my voice, all shadows stayed this is my heart, upon the altar laid
Please take all else away, hear my cry, I beg, I plead, I pray
I'll walk into the flame, a calculated risk to further bless your name
So strike me deep and true, and in your strength I will live and die both unto you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jesus People USA.

It's been a few days... it's time to recap the missions trip.

My youth group went to Chicago, Illinois where we worked with Jesus People USA, a community of Christians that live out the infamous Acts 2 example of Church. While most of the JPUSAs were putting on Cornerstone Music Festival (the Woodstock of the Christian world), our team held down their fort.

Our jobs: Cooking for the remaining JPUSAs, working at their homeless shelter, serving their senior citizens, cleaning their main building, and, of course, showing people the light of Jesus through our actions.

Honestly, it was one of those missions trips that the focus remained on the service rather than the outreach. And after talking to my friend Amber, I realized that these are probably the best kind of missions trips (short term anyway). We get to show God's love which will make a greater impact than simply befriending people for a week then leaving them.

And so that's what we did. And truly, it was though that service mindset that we BUILT relationship and potentially CHANGED lives.

On the last night we stayed at JPUSA, we had planned a game night with the seniors. Only a few showed up (sad, sad) so my friends and I just played a rousing game of Pictionary by ourselves. Well, then there's this nice man named Jim (who wasn't really that old, but have Elephantiasis) asked if someone would like to play a game with him. Well, sure. That was why we were there.

Carlee, Nathan, and I played Hearts with him. It was amazing. We just had fun, laughed, made small talk, etc. I didn't think much of it. I didn't feel like I was working or trying to proselytize.

The next day at breakfast Carlee, Nathan, and I got a card from Jim thanking us for playing cards with him. Just a game of cards. (That I nearly lost both hands of.)

Before we left Chicago he told Sarah to thank us for treating him like he was normal. Normal.

I find that ironic. Playing cards with someone is one of the most "normal" things you can do--and he did that just fine. He may have a disease, but he was still a man. He was still a sacred human being, formed by God.

And we got to bless him.

I learned from this trip that it's not the big things you can do that solely make impact in people's lives. It's the little things. It's the scraping of grease off a pan. It's the playing cards with a lonely person.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

If the fear of carpal tunnel is not enough...

"We suffer from the illusion... that we can expand our personal bandwidth, connecting to more and more. Instead, we end up overstimulated, overwhelmed and... unfulfilled. Continuous partial attention inevitably feels like a lack of full attention." [Ellen Goodman, "In Praise of a Snail's Pace"]

On my Verizon plan, I only have 250 in-coming and out-going text messages a month. For those of you with unlimited text messaging, it takes about a day to get through that many texts. This month, however, I have exceeded that limit by over 100 text messages because of a domestic threat I like to call Telephonaphobia.

I have received over 200 in-coming texts, the majority being random "I-Just-Thought-You-Should-Know" text messages. Or better yet, "Rhetorical Question" texts or "I-Could-Easily-Ask-The-Person-Next-To-Me-The-Same-Question-But-I-Chose-To-Waste-Your-Money-Instead" texts. Both are kind of annoying.

Instead of people dialing my phone number and talking to me, they send text messages.

Now, before I start to sound to archaic (like my mom who barely knows how to read texts), I need to get to the root of my issue with texting, beyond my monthly bill.


That sounds extreme, sure, but it is kind of true when it comes to texting. Person A is telling Person B about a family issue, Person B is texting simultaneously. Person A get snubbed by whomever Person B is text messaging. Tah-Dah.

It's more of a spiral effect, sure, and I don't think it's much of a problem if this is solely a teenage issue that will dissipate by adulthood. Kids (myself included) tend to be a little ADD with conversations anyway. If everyone else is text messaging anyway, it's not a huge deal. Until you're the one NOT text messaging. (Like me!)

Say Person B (the one who texted through that important conversation) grew up, got out of college, and started her life as, say, a secretary at a law firm. Not a huge deal, not like a celebrity or anything, but a nice, well-paying job. During her lunch break (and, admittedly during her work shift) she text messages her friends--all 15 of them. With text messaging, this is possible. Friend 1 is over in Seattle, Washington (married, two kids), Friend 2 and 3 have an apartment together in Vancouver, Friend 4 is on vacation in Florida, Friend 5 works down the street at a bakery... you get the picture.

Person B's text messaging skills helped her stay in touch with her 15 friends who live all across the country (and Canada!). But how deep are those relationships? How serious can a conversation get when it has a 160-character limit?

I wonder what it would be like if Jesus had unlimited text messaging. Picture him at a campfire, Peter heating fish over the flames, John next to Jesus' side ready to ask him an important question and--click,click,click.

"Jesus? Who is Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"

"Uhhhmmm." click,click,click. "Hold on, John." [SEND!]


"Oh, yeah, Greatest in the Kingdom, is that what you asked?"

"Yes, Jesus, who is the Greatest?"

[Jesus' cellphone chimes "Amazing Grace"]

"Uhmm.." [reads text, laughs] "The Greatest in the Kingdom is..."

Okay, maybe Jesus had/has better multitasking skills, but you get the picture. Jesus' relationships were authentic because he took time to really listen. Think of his conversation with Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus didn't spend just a few seconds with the guy, half-listening to him and also worrying about whoever was text-messaging him. He took time with the guy. He sat down and explained stuff to him. Think of how many times he sat down with is disciples to explain parables to them. This wasn't just a side-thought for him, it took genuine concern.

So I guess what I am asking from you, dear audience, is to not chuck your cellphones out the window (that would be unnecessary), but to be wary of when you text (not when someone is trying to have a serious conversation with you) or how it is affecting the depth of your relationship with the person you are texting.

Human contact is pretty good too. Spending some time with that person you're texting, one-on-one, will do wonders for you relationship, more so than a few (hundred) text messages.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Summer as a Striped-Collar Worker, Pt. 2: Incentives

We all respond to incentives, said Stephen Levitt in Freakonomics. I guess that's so.


Before people respond to incentives they weigh the benefits against the costs. With my job at BF Goodrich, I had to do the same. Except, my dad made me make my decision before I really thought it through. Hmm... was this a mistake?

* The Costs *

Both days of orientation contained a wild deluge of safety dos and don'ts. It reminded me of that episode of The Office when the guys upstairs go to the warehouse to learn about all the rules about not touching this and that. It was very similar, except I watched tons (and tons and tons) of videos.

They should've just made a 10 Commandments of rules and I it would've saved 'em some time. Observe.

1. DO NOT touch anything hot.

2. DO NOT stick your hand inside a machine if it's running.

3. DO NOT run in front of a forklift

4. DO NOT hit someone with a forklift

5. DO NOT sleep/gamble/drink/horseplay on the job

6. DO wear steel-toed shoes ALWAYS

7. DO wear ear-plugs ALWAYS

8. 9. 10. (You get the picture)

* The Benefits *

This pretty much has everything to do with money.

I will be working between 42-48 hours a week, which means at least two hours will be paid overtime (time and a half).

Since the hours suck, they have special rewards known as "shift premiums" that add on addition cents per hour. So even working the day shift you make an extra $10 a day. Night shifters like me will earn about $20 more.

Holidays are paid as time and a half, even if you aren't scheduled to work (you get at least 8 hours pay).

If your overtime is a holiday you get double time.

Oh, and the rate isn't $10.00 and hour, it's $13.068.

[That's a little more than IP.]

Not to mention the fact that I get to drive a "tugger" for 12 hours a day--how fun! And I get 10 minute breaks every two hours, and a half-hour break after 6... but as my trainer said, stock poolers (like myself) get extra long breaks if they're ahead of schedule.

And I get a cool swipey tag. And a water bottle. And a locker, all to myself!

** ** **

Notice my justification. I like to tell myself the job is going to be way more exciting that it actually is. I guess once I get my first paycheck of $416 (before taxes) I'll feel a little bit better about myself.


So, no news from Nea Matia. I'm a little concerned because Beverley likes staying in touch like none other. But, I am ahead of the game. I got one of next week's assignment done and asked for the information concerning the other one. Maybe these next two days I can rest before work on Friday night. (Gotta love the swing shift).

Oh yeah, back to incentives.

** The Costs **

Carpel Tunnel: I think I'm getting it in my right wrist. I have one of those pads on my laptop rather than a mouse so I constantly use my middle finger to move the cursor around. It's starting to hurt really bad.

Working as a Freelancer is tough if you like order and stability. Honestly, I'm glad that my boss Beverley is very organized and has certain deadlines for me or I'd be all over the place. It's hard to stay focused if you have no direction.

The money isn't the greatest either. I mean, you make a website for a nice rate maybe, but updates are typically monthly at best. So you get a nice lump sum that'll last you till your next trip to Starbucks.

** The Benefits **

I can wake up whenever I like, wear whatever I want, eat while I'm working, take as many breaks as I like, peruse facebook when I'm bored... and have fun.

Because honestly, it's fun making websites and flyers for people.

I do occasionally have to go into Beverley's office to pick something up and whatnot. Then I have to look nice, but it's downtown and I LOVE going downtown. Last time I went into work I got a hotdog from Coney Island first. MMmm, totally worth it.

And then there's that little thing I like to call NETWORKING. Working for a private business like Nea Matia will get me strong references, making me just another step closer to the RELE-world.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Summer as a Striped-Collar Worker, Pt. 1: Call Me Barbara

So, as most of you know via Facebook or in passing, I have taken upon myself 3 jobs. I wasn't really going to, honestly. The first one is It's Playtime!, that I love too much to quit. The second is a job that will help me prove to Cameron Strang that I'm worthy of RELEVANT. And then the third: My life as a blue-collar worker. Seriously, call me Barbara Ehrenreich.

So... let's discuss my third job for a moment. I am part of BF Goodrich's "summer help," a group of grads and college students that fill in for plant workers who are on vacation. Our jobs consist of anything from tire manufacturing to trucking (uhm, that's me!). So why did I take the job?

$10.00 an hour, 40 hours a week. THAT'S WHY.

Now, I know I have spent previous blogs scorning this so-called American Dream of disposable income coming out the wah-zoo. But honestly, I'm human. I won't lie. $400 dollars a week sounds mighty nice to a poor high school graduate.

And there's this part of the deal: THE BLOG. What I'm doing right now.

I'm going to be a journalist. I cannot remain a sheltered middle class girly who only hangs around celebs of the Christian music industry. (And yes, RELEVANT does cover more than that crap. I'm pretty sure Obama's going to make a guest appearance on the next podcast.)

I need to see the real world! The gruff n' grime of it all. And it will start here. I will, as an eighteen year old woman, venture into the forsaken world of the blue-collar workforce. I will work the swing shift. I will smell like sweat and rubber. I will be around fifty-year-old men all day. I can do it!

This introduction was a bit longer than anticipated. I will recall the events of my day reporter style, not like Barbara (from Nickel and Dimed, if you still have no idea what I'm talking about) who just told stories.



The layout of the factory is how you would expect, I assume. You know, machines everywhere, cement floors, steel ladders leading somewhere, an occasional window (open, of course, it's awfully hot in there), and industrial fans. I won't bore you with all that. Let's talk details.

Throughout the tire room there are racks and racks of "bobbins," covered in interliner fabric and rubber used to create tires. There are hundreds of them. Different sizes: 85, 100 something-or-others. Passing down the sectioned off "sidewalk," you come across these racks, some empty but most full. And their labeled. How? With a big number 200 or 50. The guys there must get bored at their jobs though. Most of the numbers I saw had little faces colored into the 0's. I appreciate their creativity.

Everyone manufacturing the tires (and there are only a few doing that, for the machines do a great deal of the work) has a rhythmic pace. Pull rubber. Wrap rubber. Cut. Pull white-liner. Wrap and cut.

There's a radio playing at about every corner of the "sidewalk." Most of it is unrecognizable to me.

I noticed how much the management wanted to make Goodrich to be a "friendly environment." They had team flags hanging on one wall--not just one college's name, but all the ones in the area. In every office I entered I saw a DIVERSITY poster with white and black kids holding hands.

Everyone who passed my trainer and me today waved. You know, those little hand-not-far-from-the-thigh kind of waves--almost like a grab or swat rather than a "goodday, neighbor."

But, it's a tire factory. A TIRE FACTORY. It's not some fancy corporate headquarters with carry-ins every Wednesday or casual Friday. It's a 24-hour sweat-dirt-grime-sleepless-on your feet job.

Does every American company want their environment mimic the so-called "high class" career of our society? Do we all secretly want to work where there are promotions, bosses in fancy offices, and company Christmas parties? Is that what Michelin is? A cheap imitation of an Orange County firm, but really at the core just a group of muscled men and women struggling to make a living, working 12 hour shifts, jumping in bed exhausted, forgetting to say their prayers because their head is spinning....

Maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic. Michelin pays their workers a fair wage--hullo, 10 dollars an hour!--but is it necessary to immitate white-collar businesses in the process? Or are they?


I logged onto my computer at 4:30 (after orientation at the plant) expecting 11 more emails from my boss Beverley at Nea Matia, Inc., where I do web updates and print-documents for the business. I had two from her, nothing more to do, just a thank-you and a CC to her secretary asking her to give me some help. Phew. It turns out one of Nea Matia's websites has this backyard server (as I'll call it) in order to update the site. Too confusing for Lauren. I'll stick with her other site that uses strictly HTML. Easy peasy.

[It's 10:34. Gotta get up early tomorrow and repeat this over again.]