Monday, February 28, 2011

Anger, anyone?

Anger is something I struggle with. And honesty about my anger. And the courage to talk about it with others. It's an image thing that God is cracking away.

But sometimes, I really want to be honest about it and don't know how to put words to it. But I found someone today who was (honest) and did (communicate) about her anger, and it was a balm to my soul. Read today and be blessed and join me in fighting against my flesh. I couldn't have said it any better.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Love Words...sometimes

I love words. I love the alphabet. I love Bananagrams. And I love books. Lots of books.

I love talking and learning and reading and going to great conferences where I listen and learn and reflect...but I reach a point where it makes me weary.

And I remember this important truth:

"The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh."

Thanks, Solomon.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hey, What's the Big Idea? (Part 3)

Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, makes meaning of the mess that he found himself in when the company he founded, Big Idea, landed in bankruptcy court. He talks about this in his book, Me, Myself, & Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables. And I talked about him here. And here.

So what's the big idea? Vischer draws some significant conclusions about the dreams, desires or goals that we have in life. This was my big "take away" from the book. He recalls learning from a pastor who preached from a passage in 2 Kings 4 about a Shunammite woman. He quotes the pastor's conclusions:

"If God gives you a dream, and the dream comes to life and God shows up in it, and then the dream dies, it may be that God wants to see what is more important to you--the dream or him. And once he see's that, you may get your dream back. Or you may not, and you may live the rest of your life without it. But that will be okay, because you'll have God."

Vischer goes on to question why God would want him to let go of his dream and finally realizes that anything he is unwilling to let go of is an idol and leads to sin. He describes how our "good" works become a "god" and start to define us, drive us, and destroy our relationship with God and others.

He says that he finally learned that the Christian life is not about doing great things for God and making a big impact, but walking with God in faith and obedience. He ends by recalling a speech that he nervously gave at a commencement ceremony. It was at a large Christian university, and his admonishment to this graduating class was unique. It was to take their dreams and aspirations and let them go. To kill them and find their peace in walking with God. It was a speech that flowed out of a past of failure and hard lessons learned, but yet out of the story that God had written for him before the beginning of time. A story that only he, a gifted storyteller, could tell as he finally surrendered to the Greatest Storyteller of all.

So there it is. Phil Vischer created Veggie Tales. He watched his company fall apart. And God has brought redemption and restoration, too. It's a beautiful story. But then again, He's a Great Storyteller.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This weekend I attended a L'Abri Conference. I've had a few people ask, "What's L'Abri?", and to that I have mumbled something quickly like, "I think L'Abri is a French word for shelter." AND "It's a conference about Christian thought and contempory culture and....stuff. Oh, and L'Abri was started by a great man named Francis Schaeffer many years ago. He's dead now." But my vague summary fell so short of what L'Abri really is.

So, taken from the L'Abri International Fellowship website, here's a better picture of L'Abri. (notice that I at least got the first part spot on.)

"L'Abri is a French word that means shelter. The first L'Abri community was founded in Switzerland in 1955 by Dr. Francis Schaeffer and his wife, Edith. Dr. Schaeffer was a Christian theologian and philosopher who also authored a number of books on theology, philosophy, general culture and the arts. The L'Abri communities are study centers in Europe, Asia and America where individuals have the opportunity to seek answers to honest questions about God and the significance of human life. L'Abri believes that Christianity speaks to all aspects of life."

And each year a L'Abri Conference is held in Rochester, Minnesota. So, after a weekend of conferencing with L'Abri folks from all around the world, I have a renewed appreciation for Schaeffer's ministry. And I left with the thought, "I wish I would have gone to a L'Abri study center when I was younger." Not that I can't now, it's just that I have children, a husband, and bills, and responsibilities and such. But perhaps there will be an opportunity in the future.

L'Abri does have a special meaning to me. An elder at a church where Doug was working had studied at L'Abri in England once upon a time. He was the one to encourage Doug to come to St. Louis to study at Covenant Seminary where professor Jerram Barrs was teaching. Jerram Barrs had been his beloved teacher at English L'Abri years ago. Because of L'Abri, Jerram Barrs, and our friend, we moved to St. Louis 13 years ago and have made it our home.

And oddly enough, Doug and I had some unique premarital counseling. Instead of the traditional talks of conflict resolution and the handling of finances, we were given a book. It was titled L'Abri, by Edith Schaeffer. I think our pastor counselor friend thought this book would help prepare us for ministry since we were going off to seminary after our wedding. I'm not sure that it practically helped us in the early days of our marriage, but it opened my eyes to the incredible ministry of the Schaeffers and of their rich prayer life and dependence upon God for all things. Her book chronicles the first days of L'Abri in Switzerland.

My head is still spinning after a full weekend of lectures and learning. I am still processing one particular workshop entitled, "Vocation and Calling" given by a delightful young woman from Canadian L'Abri. It was a lecture I wish I would have heard as a senior in high school, a senior in college, and one I needed to hear as I again reconsider my passions, giftings, and calling in life.

And in the meantime, I'm still thawing out from the cold Minnesota winter weekend, catching up on my sleep, and downloading my brain.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Greatest Artist

The image of God. Michelangelo captured this idea hundreds of years ago while painting the magnificent Sistine Chapel. The image of God would forever be an image to always picture in our minds.




I've been thinking a lot lately of what the image of God stamped on every person means. How it matters. How it changes the way I view the people He created and how it changes the way I should view myself.

So I found myself in a bit of a time capsule today as I attended a lifelong learning class at the college I attended my freshman year. Fresh out of high school, we were required to take three foundational classes. The one I remember best was called "Human Expression," and all first year students dreaded it. We gathered in a dark room viewing numerous slides of great artists and listening to various composers and reading a variety of literature. I only remember the art. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I had already been exposed to great literature and classical composers. But art--this was perhaps the first time I had really learned the difference between a Rembrandt and a Renoir. I was captured.

Fast forward almost twenty years, and today I found myself in a similar, but different place. Back in my old college classroom, in an art class on Michelangelo, but surrounded by mostly gray-haired folks with noticeably northern accents and a love for learning. (Even one good-humored gentleman who had a love for limericks. Funny fellow.) Once again viewing art, but not because we were required to study, but rather that we chose to learn. Okay, to be completely truthful, my father dragged me along...not kicking and screaming, but because he thought I would enjoy it. And I did. I also would have enjoyed sleeping in today, but I knew this would be good for my mind. Good for my soul. And good for my heart.

It took me back to a time when I was 18 year old freshman and struggling to find my place in this world. Struggling to find meaning and direction. Searching for my purpose and passion. But with the perspective of a teenager, I lacked, well, perspective.

Not that I have arrived in my 30's, but as I walked the halls of my alma mater today, I realized that I see the world quite a bit different than I did when I was younger, thankfully. And I see people differently. I see them with a passion to know their hearts, hear their stories, and ask questions with them. Not just give them answers (although I hope to have a clearer understanding of truth these day), but I have plenty of more questions. And more importantly a heart to hear, and to understand, and to engage. Those were turbulent days for me, but God had a new setting, new characters, and a different plot in days ahead. Now, I have the perspective of being married and being a mom and learning what truly matters. My eyes are opening to the creativity of God around me in His creation. His image in His people. His glory in His good plan.

Perhaps God is again reminding me of how being image bearers means that all people are created precious and important. And how God is most valuable and the greatest artist of all. And now I finally believe that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hey, What's the Big Idea (Part 2)

Phil Vischer is a creative storyteller. Have I already said that? So, after reading the first half of his book, Me, Myself & Bob, I've learned a few more things.

1-Vischer is from Muscatine, Iowa. That's a fun word to say in itself: Muscatine. But do you know where it is? It's in IOWA! How about that? Creativity flowing from the land of tall corn. And tomatoes and cucumbers, among others things.
2-He grew up in a pretty fundamental, conservative religious home. Maybe that doesn't shock you, but considering the fact that going to movies was on his family's list of "deadly sins", it's a little amazing that he had the courage to use his God-given gifts to redeem the world of entertainment, of all places.
3-He dropped out of Bible college. Seems like he almost got kicked out, truthfully. Something he's probably not too proud of, but he doesn't seem to have a lot of shame about it either. Those days were full of fun and creativity and relationships, and God used it all.
4-He wanted to create the next "Christian Disney." He had big plans and big hopes and big dreams. Walt Disney was, in fact, one of his heroes. I have to admit I got a tear in my eye as I read the final chapters where he shares what he learned from the relationship that young Walt had with his older brother, Roy. Okay, I was sobbing.
5-Visher's big business boomed and then had a big bang in bankruptcy court. Fascinating to hear the details. Big Idea today is not the same as Visher's original Big Idea, but God had a bigger, better story for him. It just took learning a few lessons first.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hey, What's the Big Idea? (Part 1)

And...what happened to Big Idea?

I was a little shocked and slightly embarrassed (sorry, couldn't resist) that I had NO IDEA what had happened to Big Idea. Let me explain.

I can't say that I was/am a huge VeggieTales fan. I mean, my kids are no longer preschoolers and have graduated from watching these cute cartoon Bible stories, but I did have the thought the other day that my youngest has possibly seen more Harry Potter movies with her older brothers than PBS shows, and I just kind of skipped the whole "VeggieTales" stage with her. Oh, regrets!

Then, I stumbled upon a new project of Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales. While getting super excited about his new What's In the Bible series, I discovered Vischer's website. Low and behold, I realized that something BIG had happened to Big Idea Productions. These sweet veggies had been through the steamer in recent days (okay, so almost ten years ago now) and just barely survived. Now, I know that I am somewhat of an ostrich with my head in the ground and have missed a LOT of newsworthy events during this past decade of parenting, but for some reason, I was surprised. As I started to skim his first installment of "What Happened to Big Idea?", I realized a few things:

1-Phil Vischer is a gifted storyteller and communicator. Really.
2-His real life stories have as much drama as his fictional tales. They leave you in suspense and on the verge of both laughter and tears. Really.
3-It's fascinating to read how a ministry turns into a media empire turns into a mess. That God can redeem. Really.

So after reading Vischer's posts about the rise and fall of Big Idea, I was hooked. And I learned there was more. So this month I am reading Me, Myself & Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer.

I guess you can say that I needed some lighthearted reading after finishing last month's book club selection, Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's All About LIGHT!

Of course it is! At least that's what I'm learning in Photography 101. So I was pretty excited to capture this shot after fiddling around with F-stops while in the library parking lot today. (I love that my son is old enough to run in and check out our books while I wait in the car and play with my new camera.) Then I came home and realized how imperfect my photo really is, but I still like that it reminds me of my first lesson in the importance of light in photography. Plus, it's one of my first landscape shots with my fancy schmancy camera.