Saturday, October 31, 2009


Since November is the best month ever, I decided to make it even better by reading through the entire Bible. We'll see how this goes! (It was either this, or write a novel -- and I've already attempted that. Turns out, writing a novel seems too personal for me. Ironically.)

Tentative schedule:
1 Genesis
2 Exodus
3 Leviticus, Hebrews
4 Numbers
5 Deuteronomy
6 Joshua, Judges
7 Matthew, Mark
8 Ruth, 1 Samuel
9 2 Samuel, Romans
10 1 Kings, 2 Kings
11 1 Chronicles, Galatians, Ephesians
12 2 Chronicles
13 Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
14 Job
15 Luke, 1 Corinthians
16 Acts, 2 Corinthians
17 Proverbs, Amos
18 Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs/Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Joel
19 Ezekiel
20 Isaiah 1-33, Hosea
21 Isaiah 34-66, Philippians, Colossians
22 Jeremiah
23 Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
24 John, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Jude
25 Titus, Philemon, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Psalm 1-16 26 Revelation, Psalm 17-35 27 Psalm 36-69 28 Psalm 70-101 29 Psalm 102-127 30 Psalm 128-150

color and texture in klaipeda 4

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Recommendation

For my class I had to read the book Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent J. Donovan.

Clearly I just took Amazon's picture of the book...but trust me, it looks just like mine, only no "click to look inside!"

This is a must read, especially for anyone seriously thinking of working in the mission field. I will certainly read it again, and you are welcome to borrow my copy.

On the surface it is an account of Donovan's time spent in East Africa ministering to the Masai people. But much more than that, it challenges us to think about the meaning of what it is to be a missionary, and how does one go about sharing the gospel without tainting it with their culture? Donovan distinguishes between the difference of missionary work and pastoral work, and the importance of community with regards to faith (as opposed to only focusing on the individual).

It is a challenging and thought-provoking book. The content is easy enough to read through pretty quickly, but the ideas presented are some that I have been thinking about for a while, and some new ones that I will continue to think about.

It really made me question my calling (or, my interpretation of my calling). It is not a new thing for me to question what it is I want to be when I grow up, but recently I have been thinking about it even more. I think the real question is how do I want to partake in ministry, and how does that look? If I ever become a mother, and all the kids are over the age of 5 and in school, what will I do with my time between 8a and 3p? What if I'm finding that I'm not so into evangelism and missionarying, but into teaching and propheting and community building?

Those last few sentences were not really what the book was about, but some of my thoughts as a result of the book.

But seriously. Read it, and let me know what you think.

color and texture in klaipeda 2

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Laura in Wonderland

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

-Lewis Carroll

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More evidence that I am a visual learner (and also that maybe I should've been left-handed at more things).

Think back to last March. Or think ahead to next summer. What do you see? How do you picture the time that was or will be?

Or should I say,

Do you picture or imagine time? I do. Sort of. It is difficult to articulate it. So I have produced some diagrams via paint (the best program a computer can possibly offer) to help me explain.

Bear with me.

Ok, let's start on a big scale. If I were to picture last March, I would picture myself in a linear (although 3 dimensional) calendar that reads from right to left. I would be somewhere on the line where October should be (since it is October, after all), but looking over my shoulder to March. If I am looking ahead to next summer, I picture myself still in October, and in the linear calendar, but since I am visualizing next year, I read it from left to right (although once I am in next year, like as soon as it actually becomes 2010, I will read it from right to left again). I always think of the current year as right to left, and the next year as left to right.

On a smaller scale, when I'm planning my weeks and days, I always think from right to left (looking ahead or behind, but if I were to step outside of it, it would read right to left).

Am I totally crazy or what?

I am not really talking about calendars here, I read those as they are just fine. But in my mind's eye, I just picture time a bit differently. Where does this even come from?

Next week is fall break. Hopefully will take lots of pictures. Maybe a few good ones.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One of my faves, while I should be doing other things that are more productive

Here is one of my favorite Bible stories, told very creatively. Thanks to Hannah for pointing out the website!

John 11:1-3
Mary and Martha, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.'

John 11:4
When Jesus heard this, he said, 'This sickness will not end in death.'

John 11:5
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

John 11:7, 14
Then he said to his disciples, 'Let's go back to Judea. Lazarus is dead.'

John 11:17, 20-21
When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Martha came out to meet him and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!'

John 11:28, 32
Martha went and called her sister, and when Mary came to where Jesus was, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!'

John 11:33, 35
When Jesus saw Mary weeping and the weeping of the Jews who had come with her, he was deeply troubled and distressed. Jesus wept.

John 11:36-37
Some of the Jews said, 'Couldn't he have done something to keep Lazarus from dying?'

John 11:38-39
Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 'Take away the stone,' he said.

John 11:39
Martha, the sister of the dead man, said 'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been there four days.'

John 11:40-43
They took away the stone and Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!'

John 11:44
The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth.

John 11:44
Jesus said to them, 'Unwrap him and let him go.'

Monday, October 19, 2009

What is it about?

Specifically verses 8 and 9. Someone enlighten me, please.

Luke 16
Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1 Jesus told this story to his disciples: "There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer's money.
2 So the employer called him in and said, 'What's this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.'
3 "The manager thought to himself, 'Now what? My boss has fired me. I don't have the strength to dig ditches, and I'm too proud to beg.
4 Ah, I know how to ensure that I'll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.'
5 "So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, 'How much do you owe him?'
6 The man replied, 'I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.' So the manager told him, 'Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.*'
7 "'And how much do you owe my employer?' he asked the next man. 'I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,' was the reply. 'Here,' the manager said, 'take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.*'
8 "The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.
9 Here's the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.*
10 "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.
11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
12 And if you are not faithful with other people's things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?
13 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
14 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him.
15 Then he said to them, "You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thoughts on coats and other things that come with it.

Tonight in church, it was announced that the Salvation Army is looking for donations now, specifically for warm winter clothes, hats, gloves, etc -- and specifically for men's winter clothes. Unemployment is high right now, they said, and the need is for donations for men.

What does it say about a society, when it is the men that need to be taken care of?

Let's look at a life cycle of wearing coats (if you live in a warm climate, please substitute "coat" with something"sunscreen.").

When you are an infant, your parents put
your coat on you for you. You play no part in buying the coat, deciding when to wear it, or the actual putting on of the coat.

When you are a little bit older, you might start putting the coat on by yourself. You still need help with zipping it up maybe, and you certainly didn't buy it...but when your parents say, "put on your coat," you are able to help yourself a little bit.

Then comes the age where you are completely able to realize that it is cold out and put on a coat. Your parents still bought it for you, but you know how and when t
o use it. Soon, you may even be able to predict that a coat may be necessary later on in the day, and bring it with you when you leave the house.

Then comes the day where you are old enough to go get a job, buy your own coat, and wear it whenever you think you need to.

Back to the donations for coats and other warmities. I really wish that everyone who needed a coat could have a coat. Especially when there are more coats hanging in the stores than people who need coats, it would seem. Or even when my own closet has more coats in it than people living in this apartment.
But how do I help? If the need is for donations for men, what do they really need help with? I am certainly helping them, at least temporarily, if I just go and get a bunch of coats and donate them. But is there more? Certainly
if they need coats, they are at a need for other things too. Food, shelter, income, sense of responsibility, etc.
Where does my responsibility lie? How much should/can I give? Is it better to give someone a coat, or a job so that they can buy their own coat? Is it better to give someone a job, or to give them a good work ethic, so they can keep a job? Or teach them how to budget their money, once they have a job?

(Warning, coming up are a bunch of "absolute" statements. They are meant to be a sort of exageration to drive a point home. Please don't think that for some things I really believe that people "always" are this way, or they "ne
ver" do that.)

Softening the blow.

On one hand, I always claim to never be political. Most of the time if people start talking about politics, I have to leave the room, because I mostly disagree (doesn't matter whose team people are on, usually when people are talking about politics, it is because they disagree with the other side, and are complaining. This is what I disagree with).
It dawned on me the other day, that maybe what I most disagree with about politics is the way it gets in the way of what it was intended to be. If that makes any sense. If politics exist for the betterment and organization of the people, then the problem (and why everyone always complains all the time) is that people generally want to have a say in how they help others. "I don't want my tax dollars paying for that!" "I want everyone to have a coat, but only if they earn it!"
Is this really helping others? Maybe underneath it all, I really am very political, I just don't know enough to articulate it, and I am often too distracted by the feeling of wanting to throw up every time I hear someone criticize the government. Please, United States. Count your blessings and stop your belly-aching all the time.

On another hand, back to coats, should we treat people like the adults they are? If you go out and buy someone a coat and then wish them well, have you really helped them in the long run? Maybe, if that was the inspiration they needed. But is there something more we could do? I've often heard it argued, "But I don't want to give that bum a coat, because then it means that I condone him being a bum, and what he does while he is a bum, and probably why he is a bum."

This way of thinking, I think, is crap. We should always give and do good, and not have our own agenda or motives. We who have more have a certain responsibility to take care of those who don't. Read James 2. If we truly have faith, it will be known by how we treat those who don't have a "perfect" life (and really, who does?). Doing good is the fruit and evidence of our faith. Withholding good from someone, whether they deserve it or not...what is this evidence of?

Ok. Sorry for the rant. I just often wonder how to help people who are clearly at an age where they should be able to care for themselves, yet they can't. For whatever reason. At what age did they stop being cared for? Is it too late to help them? Should I strive to help those at a younger age, so that they grow up able to afford the necessities of life? Or should I help those who didn't have that luxury as a child, and therefore never learned how to care for themselves?

Here is my to do list, from Romans. And for now, my political stance (in remembering my Independance Day resolution).

Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them.
Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Rejoice in our confident hope.
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
When God's people are in need, be ready to help them.
Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them.
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with each other.
Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil.
Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

(Romans 12:9-18)

Lame, or awesome?

I was looking over my blogging history, and noticed that the highest amount of times I have blogged in any given month is 9. 9 times.

I said, "Man. I am so lame. I shouldn't even be able to call myself a blogger. I can't even blog 10 times a month."
Steve answered, "Maybe some people would think you are lame if you were able to blog 10 times a month."


In other news having to do with lame or awesome, here is a picture of part of an old building.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Newest thing I want to learn:

The German language.

I don't have any rosetta stones for it, and I'm limited in time, so I think I will have to watch Run Lola Run until I pick it up.

But seriously, I want to learn some German.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Energized, exhausted

Indirectly, today, I was challenged to think about what activities energize me and what activities exhaust me.

Here is what I could think of:

Three things that I am never too tired for:
1. Learning and relaying information
2. Brainstorming
3. Taking pictures of things or people as they are

Three things that suck the life out of me:
1. Planning and executing events for other people
2. Church meet and greet (or "Passing the peace")
3. Disconnectedness

What are the activities that energize you? What are the activities that exhaust you?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Through what glasses do you see the world?

In the midst of living in a distinctly different culture for a brief time (brief in the bigger picture, anyway), and in the midst of taking a class called Cultural Dimensions of Mission, I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.

I think a lot anyway, so maybe I should specify that I have been doing a lot of thinking about a particular topic.

How do you honor both a culture and the gospel (or can you? or should you?)? How do you differentiate between what is coming from your culture, and what is coming from your Bible? How might someone who knows nothing of the background of this picture see this picture (above)? What are some things in your culture that might seem offensive to another culture? Are these things offensive because they are unbiblical, or because they go against your culture? Can we recognize the difference? Do I act and think the way I do because I am a Christian, or because I come from the Midwestern United States?

Anyway, those are some of the things I have been thinking about.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I need a new morning routine.

The one that I have been using for the past...whole entire not working. It is surviving.

Here is my current routine. It comes very naturally for me.

  • Snooze until I absolutely have to wake up (and then one more).
  • Rush to shower and get dressed.
  • Comb hair.
  • No time for breakfast or to dry my hair.
  • Brush teeth.
  • Leave for the day.
  • Finally start to become hungry (I am not good at having an appetite in the morning.)
This routine is exacerbated by the fact that our bedroom has no windows, and absolutely no light comes in at all. Ever. If I wake up at 3am or at 10am, it is still so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face, and you have no concept of time. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful for sleeping. Horrible for waking up, especially if you're slow about everything in the morning. Slower than usual.

Anyway, I tried to take a picture of how dark it was in the room, but there was nothing to focus on. I ended up probably just wasting battery power. Much like the time I was in Tallinn and tried to take a picture of how blue the sky was. The camera could not find anything in the blue to focus on, so I had to include some buildings in the shot.

I recreated what the picture of the room would've looked like in paintbrush:

This morning I had a different routine. One that I would like to try again. It involves getting up a half hour earlier...and I'm exhausted right now...but it's ok. I think. Will have to try it for a while.

Here is what happened. I had to get up and proofread, and I had set the personal goal to get that done by a certain time. When I woke up I was very cold (no heat here yet). So I put on a sweatshirt and a thick blanket and went to the living room to proofread. I just realized this is an incredibly boring post. It's boring but it's my life.

Anyway, while I was sitting on the couch trying to get used to the blinding light the computer was throwing out at me, Steve was discovering that there was no hot water to be had in the building. So while he was fixing that, I was proofreading. I wonder if you're still reading this? Anyway, I finish proofreading, and while I wait for the hot water to come back on, I decided that I've been up long enough to actually be hungry for a bowl of cereal. Then by the time the hot water is back, I am awake enough to take a reasonably timed shower (I would not go so far as to say a fast one).

Anyway, what I'm trying to say, is that I need a new routine. And this getting up an doing something other than rushing around is really appealing to me. I wonder how long it will last? I will try tomorrow. On Saturday, we're getting up before the sun to go to Vilnius, so routine will be thrown out the window.

Here is a picture of the blue sky in Tallinn, the most interesting and beautiful thing about this post (Tallinn is beautiful. And interesting). The picture was taken right before the camera's battery died, because I wasted all the power trying to focus on the blue sky.

Heck, here is another. Tallinn is so far north that it doesn't get too dark in the summer, and pretty much stays dark all winter. Here it is, nearing midnight in May.

So, what is your morning routine?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Simple and Profound

We sang this today in chapel. An oldie but a goodie (we sang the whole song, not just the last stanza).

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

I think I used to think this verse was about Heaven (like all good last stanzas). But it dawned on me that it is now. Like the Kingdom of God. It is not some far off thing that is beyond us or "someday," it is near and it is now.

Ok. Sorry. I am not really a fan of posting lyrics. But these were pretty profound today (even though people generally like to showboat on the classics, me included sometimes). So I'm sharing.

And we're going to Vilnius this weekend, so hopefully this blog won't be so devoid of pictures. And let's not forget my staycation that will happen during fall break (last week of October). There will be so many pictures you will be begging for more lyrics.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Unpack like it's camp.

There is so much that I would like to unpack from this passage (as I said in the last post), but since this is not my diary, but a blog, I will only unpack a little. It's like when you are spending a summer at camp, and you know you have a lock box under your bed that you can store stuff (so you don't have to take everything home with you every single weekend). But actually, if you're like me you really only wore the same five outfits every week, and all the rest of your clothes stayed in the lock box virtually untouched for the whole summer. This may be a slight exaggeration...but the point is, while there is a lot that I would like to share about this particular passage, I think I will really only skim the surface, and take out of it my favorite things.
Bad analogies aside, here are some thoughts on Jonah 1:17-2:10.

Where to start. Let's start with the fact that the Lord had given Jonah a task to do, and instead of doing the task, Jonah runs in the opposite direction, out to sea. This is in the first chapter of Jonah, before verse 17. Meanwhile the Lord causes a violent storm, and the people on the boat figure out the Jonah being on the boat is correlated with the storm. So they throw him overboard, and that is where we start, with verse 17:

Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah.

I love this. Not that I want to be swallowed by a great fish, even if it is one that the Lord arranges, but I love it. I love that Jonah cannot run from the Lord. God wants to get his attention, and Jonah is not listening, so God says, PAY ATTENTION!

A lot of times (this could be a mix of both currently and in the past, so please don't try to read this too deeply) I've known that I am right where God wants me to be, but I still feel overwhelmed with the task at hand. I often have felt under qualified, under prepared, or under...passionate about the place I am. This could be in places of ministry like camp, or it could be places where God has placed me for a time that have nothing to do with (traditional) ministry (but become my ministry, because that is the way I am wired).

Anyway, in the past, I have felt like, "Ok. I know this is where God wants me to be, but this just isn't my cup of tea. If I flake out though, I will be no better than Jonah...and we all know what happened when he flaked out." So I stick it out, and in hindsight, I can see that it really was where I was supposed to be.

Let's move on to the next verses (Chapter 2)

And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.
He said, "I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!
You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
Then I said, 'O LORD, you have driven me from your presence.
Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.'
"I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me.
Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!
As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD.
And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.
Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies.

But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the LORD alone."

Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

It has become apparent to me, in hindsight, that while I was in those "not my cup of tea" situations, that even though I was right where God wanted me to be, and I thought I was trying not to be like Jonah (flaking out), I was like Jonah. As I look back, I can see parts of my life where I was right where God wanted me to be, but it was in the belly of a great fish.

Remember? God arranged for the great fish to swallow Jonah. It was right where Jonah needed to be. It is really hard to avoid God when you are in the belly of a fish (this is coming from the one who can't even stand to think about the "fish section"* at the grocery store). It took him three whole days, but when Jonah finally cried out to God, and basically renewed his vows, then God ordered the fish to spit him back out again. Sometimes (or a lot of times), it takes a lot to get my attention. But after some time in a fish, after some time to cry out to God -- to regain remember who(se) you are...after that, you are then totally more equipped than you were before.

Jonah goes on to do the task that the Lord called him to do. He finally obeys...and when it doesn't go the way he expected, he is pissed at God (Joanh 3 and 4). How much am I like Jonah! But that is another story for another time. I have already unpacked enough for now.

*The fish section of the store. Here, in most grocery stores, in the place where you can get most meat, you can also get fish (I guess, also a meat). But the fish are in this huge tank, still living, just crammed in there. And they smell fishy. I can smell them several aisles away. Some days the smell is too much to bear, and my gag reflex kicks in. In all reality, if I were swallowed by a great fish, ...oh man, I don't even want to imagine it.
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