Thursday, July 26, 2012


Recently, I had one of those days where I was completely set to dive into a pile of tasks and be super productive only to face constant interruption. I sat down at my desk with my computer and books and pen and lists, and I was set to go...or not.
I ended up nailed to my chair for an hour and a half while a co-worker nearly ran out of air as she spoke about everything under the sun. Seriously, she spoke went from politics to studying at university to religion to famine in Africa. It was a bit overwhelming, really. And, especially so as it was exclusively in Khmer. After nearly 2 hours, I had a pounding headache and not a single thing checked off my to-do list for the day.
I was annoyed by the interruption and was determined to avoid them for the afternoon.

But today, reality set in. My co-worker was sharing with me how much she values being able to talk to me about these things, about how she needs to be able to de-stress with someone because some things are just too heavy to carry around. And, I felt about 2 inches tall as I remembered how annoyed I was on that day of constant interruption. The truth is that I understand the importance of having a listening ear, of being able to share with someone who really "gets" it. I also understand that sometimes the need to word vomit does not come at the most opportune times. And, I realize that being a listening ear can be considerably more valuable than crossing things off of a list.

Perhaps I need to shift my perspective on interruptions and view them a bit more as opportunities. An opportunity to be patient. An opportunity to care about someone else. An opportunity to have compassion. An opportunity to be a bit more like Jesus...

"Then Jesus said, 'Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.' He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn't even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things." Mark 6:31-34

Monday, July 23, 2012

the more important things

"Then the Lord said to him, 'You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy--full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things." Luke 11: 39-42

I do not want to become distracted by my outward appearance to others. I do not want to worry about splitting theological hairs. I do not want the fruit of my life to be greed wickedness. I do not want to be concerned with counting out my pennies or my 100 riel notes to ensure that my tithe is complete.

Justice. Love. Those are the more important things.

I want to be a lover of people. I want to be generous and give gifts for the sake of giving gifts not for the sake of my own benefit or ease conscious. I want to be kind because there are already plenty of people who are not. I want to consider others better than myself. I want to offer people justice and dignity, and I realize that in order to do that it may cost me something, which I have to accept for what it is. It is worth it. It is worth it because it is far more important than a few sprigs of parsley or some dirt under my fingernails...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

on growing up...

Growing up. That is what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to get taller and stronger and have larger vocabularies and be able to express ourselves better. We are supposed to cease throwing temper tantrums when we do not get what we want. We are supposed to learn that the world does not revolve around us and our every whim. We are supposed to become responsible and productive members of society. You know, the kind that get up in the mornings and show up to work on time. (I think when I was in high school my dad may have had his doubts that I would actually ever be able to do this one as he yelled at me to get out of bed EVERY morning.) These are all the things we know about growing up, but the reality is that sometimes we get stuck.

Sometimes we forget that we are 26 or 35 or 57 or fill-in-the-blank. Quite frankly, sometimes we simply act like 2-year-olds. A few weeks ago I was visiting my family, and I had a little giggle watching my 2-year-old nephews and the potential eruption that was brewing. One of them likes to open cabinet doors. One of them likes to keep cabinet doors closed. So, this is a little bit what the scene looked like.

Caleb told Aden to close it. Aden returned a death stare. Frustration started to rise on both sides. Sound familiar?
Now, I like to think that I no longer make a high-pitched shriek when someone else blatantly goes against what I want them to do. However, I am not sure that the response I do have is any more desirable. Is anyone else tracking with me here?
What is wrong with us? Why do we so often still act like toddlers? And, I do not mean that we are fighting over whether the cabinet doors are open or closed. I mean the ways we fail to consider others and think only of ourselves. Did we ever really learn that the world does not center around us? Other people and materials do not exist simply to make my life more comfortable. Yes, I want to enjoy people, and I do not see anything wrong with enjoying stuff. But, people make mistakes and stuff breaks. That is just the way things go, and I want to be able to live with an attitude that is thankful and joyful and filled with mercy and grace. I want to love justice. I want to grow up.

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid good is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognized the difference between right and wrong." Hebrews 5:12-14

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a better question?

So, you know those questions we ask ourselves about the goals and purpose of our lives? Ok, so maybe you don't ask yourselves these kind of questions, but humor me.

I have often wondered if I am doing the right thing, if I am living well, if I am really making a difference, if I am really enjoying the life I am living, if I am kind enough or compassionate enough or just enough. The truth is that I want to live a life that truly honors my glorious God, but sometimes I think that I might make that a little too complicated in my pursuit to be like Jesus, to do what Jesus would want me to do. And, a few days ago I was reading in Carl Medearis's book Speaking of Jesus when he posed the following question about a better question we should be asking ourselves:

"If Jesus were living my life right now and He were here doing what I'm doing, would He be pleased or want to do something else?"

I hope beyond hope that He would be pleased...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

division is icky

I simply cannot come up with a better word than "icky" to describe division, at least as it pertains to the followers of Jesus. I do not like it. It bothers me. And, it makes me a little bit ashamed of the way we, claimers of following Jesus, act and represent ourselves to the rest of the world. Sometimes I think we just miss it. Even John did.

"John said to Jesus, 'Master, we saw someone using Your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn't in our group.'" Luke 9:49

How often do we tell Jesus the same thing? Hey Jesus, I just wanted to let you know that those guys over there were teaching something crazy and ridiculous about inviting sinners into their homes, but don't worry, I set 'em straight and let those sinners know that they were going to straight to hell. Ok, so maybe that is a bit extreme, but I am not sure that is entirely off the mark. I know that I have had these thoughts, made similar judgments before. I am not proud of that, and I desperately want to avoid continuing to do it. I think Jesus wants the same thing.

"But Jesus said, 'Don't stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.'" Luke 9:50

So, if you're for Jesus, I want to be for you, too. We can disagree. We can live in different places with different jobs and different dreams and have different preferences in food, music, clothes, decor, and every other material thing in existence. But, if you're for Jesus, I want to be for you. And, I think that is what Jesus is for...because I am pretty sure Jesus thinks division is icky.