Wednesday, August 31, 2005

it's pronounced soof-yan

I have been extremely intrigued by Sufjan Stevens. His works grind through the tough mechanics of sin, grace and redemption in a way unlike anyone else I've ever heard. Here are the strange, interesting, yet insightful and honest lyrics of one of his songs, John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

His father was a drinker
And his mother cried in bed
Folding John Wayne’s t-shirts
When the swingset hit his head

The neighbors they adored him
For his humor and his conversation
Look underneath the house there
Find the few living things
Rotting fast, in their sleep
Oh, the dead

Twenty-seven people
Even more, they were boys
With their cars, summer jobs
Oh, my God
Are you one of them

He dressed up like a clown for them
With his face paint white and red
And on his best behavior
In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all

He’d kill ten thousand people
With a sleight of his hand
Running far, running fast to the dead
He took off all their clothes for them
He put a cloth on their lips
Quiet hands, quiet kiss
On the mouth

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floor boards
For the secrets I have hid
posted by Christie

Monday, August 29, 2005

firsthand report

These weather guys trip me out. I guess that they're reporting the stuff that everybody really wants to see, but it's comical to me when they continue to report as the camera men have to hold their feet down so they don't blow away. I've already seen several of them who have been struck by debris, grimmaced in pain, then continued with their description of the events of the storm. They've got more guts than I do.

Pray for the people of New Orleans. And those crazy reporters.
posted by Christie

Friday, August 26, 2005

home of the big one

Considering the fact the that dining opportunities are rather slim where we live, we try and take advantage of the few places that serve great food. For over two years now, we've been enjoying sandwiches, salads, wraps, spaghetti and cheesecake from Larry's Giant Subs. Infact, we eat there so much that the owner buys us birthday presents and sends us fudge during the holidays. However, we went in today to find that the restaurant is closing tomorrow. So, we ordered our very last meal from Larry's, unless we opt for one last hurrah Saturday. Of course, the owner had a card waiting for us and told us we'd become more like friends to her than customers. It's sad how much we ate there, but even more sad that they're closing.
posted by Christie

miracles never cease

While up late the other night, I watched the televangelism atrocity that is called Peter Popoff. Of course, I couldn't just idly sit and view the program, I had to order the free miracle spring water and personal prophecy that he was advertising on his show. As promised, I received the items in the mail about a week later. Included were the instructions on how to use the miracle water. It directed me to do something to the effect of this: put a glass of water on my night stand, place the vile of miracle water under my pillow, take seven sips from the glass of water in the morning, anoint my body and home with the water from the vile, and then write a check for $17 to Peter Popoff Miracle Ministries ($17 because the one represents God and the seven represents perfection). If I did all of that, he would then send me another personal prophecy and I would be guaranteed to prosper financially like never before. Below are some testimonials of others who placed the call just like I did.

I sent for the miracle water last month and used it as directed. After using the water, I was blessed with a peaceful mind, deeper reverence for our Lord and a financial blessing of $2,000.00, a refund from the school I graduated from in 2002. Glory to God! Thank you for your constant prayer, encouragement and love.
--Sister P. Williams, Bronx, NY

I had to write you right away to tell you of the miracle that took place with me after using the Miracle Water packet. I followed your instruction. I put some of the water on my back, where I had a small growth on [my back] for about four or more years. This was Saturday morning. So Sunday morning, when I got up to take my shower for church, I said "let me feel and see if the growth [is] gone from my back". When I put my hand on the place where it [used] to be, it was not there, instead I felt on my hand some kind of fluid, I [looked] and it was a black substance, so I [mashed] the place again and more and more black fluid came out. I came out [of] the shower [and] I told my husband. So he [mashed] it and got more, until all was out. We all were very happy. Thank God for you, Rev. Popoff!
--Sister Martha Bookard, Columbia, SC

And I've also heard if you drink the water upside down while reciting "abracadabra, alacazam" over and over that you will receive the sports car of your choice within 7-10 days. I guess it's worth a try.
posted by Christie

Thursday, August 25, 2005

a time to kill

The other day I left work, in hopes of making it to Wal-Mart before the black cloud looming above decided to spill out its contents unmercifully upon me. I speedily drove the few miles to my destination hoping to escape the impending doom. As I whipped my car into one of the only empty spaces in the parking lot, a slight drizzle began to fall from the heavens. After spending a few moments in consideration of whether or not to brave the elements, I exited my car. With umbrella in the upright position, I began the rather long walk to the store entrance. No more than ten steps into my treck, the slight drizzle I had previously experienced, turned into a raging torrent that would have rivaled the flood during the days of Noah. As I started walking faster and faster in hopes that I could circumvent a complete soaking, I heard a faint cry in the distance. I turned to see a store employee who was caught in the deluge without the protection of an umbrella. Being the Samaritan that I am, I made eye contact with the frantic woman and motioned for her to come and share my nylon covering with me. I immediately stopped, did my best to smile, and made room for the already wet, mid 40s cashier. However, I soon came to the realization that my intentions were obviously mis-understood as she whisked by me and snatched the umbrella from my very hands. As she sped towards the store, with my umbrella, I stood in the downpour completely shocked at the events that had just taken place. After finally making it to the entrance, the lady stood waiting for me - my umbrella in hand - and thanked me for saving her from getting completely drenched. As she happily skipped off to work, I forced a smile, and made my way towards the bathroom to begin the process of wringing out my hair and clothing. What a nice exchange.
posted by Christie

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

persecution over seas

Chen Jingmao, a house church leader in China, was arrested during the Summer of 2001. He has now been imprisoned for over 1500 days. Read his story below from Voice of the Martyrs.

Brother Chen Jingmao, who is 72 years old, was arrested July 9, 2001, for "illegal evangelistic activities." He had previously been arrested in 1999 and April 2001, on similar charges. This time he was sentenced to four years in prison on May 14, 2002, for the charge of "using an 'evil cult' to obstruct the law." These charges refer to his association with the South China Church. More than 100 leaders of this large house-church movement have been arrested, nine of whom were given prison sentences along with Mr. Chen. According to court documents, he was charged with "active recruitment of evil cult members," "organizing secret illegal religious gatherings numerous times," and "distributing the evil cult propaganda materials-'Salvation and China.'" One bit of evidence brought up at the hearing was that Mr. Chen had sent his granddaughter to be trained as a Sunday school teacher. Because he had led 50 prison inmates to Christ, the guards severely beat him in February of this year, breaking both of his legs. In addition, the beatings to his head seemed to have caused mental confusion. The guards implied that his actions had brought shame on the Communist Party. Pray for this godly church leader who continues to be faithful to Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to make disciples.
posted by Christie

down memory lane

I was about four years old when my grandfather, Albert, died of a complicated illness that eventually ended in a heart-attack. I don't really remember much about him, except that he drank a lot, his house smelled funny and he had a cute little white dog named Bill that my family took care of after he died. Looking back on that time, it seems so odd, because I remember him as being ancient, but he was only fifty-one. And my four year old assumptions must have jaded me because when I picture him, I still see an aged old-man, but in actuality he was really very young. Being as small as I was when he died, all I remember is not understanding what was happening. I knew that he was gone and he'd left everything behind, but that was about it. Papa Albert worked for the state, and after he died, I wore his name tag around the house for weeks, along with his hat from the Marines, but the reality of the situation had yet to sink in. When we were cleaning out his house, I remember finding a red kimono in a closet and coming out with it wrapped around me. My mom got upset and only later did I find that Papa Albert brought that garment back from WWII and he let my mom wear it when she was a little girl. Certainly at the age I was, I couldn't grieve. But looking back, I realize what a young man my grandfather was and how much life he could have had to live. If he were alive today, he would be just 72. I think of all the experiences that could have taken place in those twenty years and now I grieve - not for the grandfather that I knew, but for the one I didn't.
posted by Christie

Monday, August 22, 2005

close to home

I found out about Google Earth from Michael's site and it is amazing. You should definitely check it out. Just be careful not to walk around outside in your underwear from now on...

The star, that's our house. Pretty cool.
posted by Christie

Thursday, August 18, 2005

informed, but not transformed

Brian McLaren has a great article in Christianity Today, about the tendency of Christians, who have received much "education," to be the least Christ-like. It details the differences in teaching about God and teaching people God. Also compares Christian education and spiritual formation. Definitely worth the read.

“Oh, how rare are the Christians who speak with a tender heart and have a theological backbone of steel.” –John Piper
posted by Christie

expect the unexpected

Last night marked the second week that I've played guitar for worship on Wednesday night. And it's funny to me that you can practice and practice and practice and do well, yet get in front of people and become afflicted by alien hand and be unable to form even the most basic chords. I just don't get it. Well, despite that, neither week has been horrible and I've hit enough chords right to hopefully cover for the few that went awry. However, yesterdays session brought a new experience that is a first step among many of seasoning me as a player. We were singing The Wonderful Cross, a particularly easy song that I chose for that very reason. Yet, something happened that made playing it rather, un-easy, if you will. As I was striking the last chord before beginning the last half of what would be our last chorus, it happened. Out of nowhere, one of my strings broke. Immediately, I thought about having previously heard of guitar players who can compensate for a string breaking and continue playing, but just as quickly, I realized I wasn't one of them. So, I did the only thing I could think of and finished the song acapella. Really, it happened at the perfect spot and only a few people who were sitting on the front row even realized the song wasn't intended to end the way it did. So, here's to firsts. I'm definitely going to change my Martin Lights more often, so hopefully, there won't be any seconds.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

light at the end of the tunnel

I've just gotten off the phone with Georgia Student Finance and worked out a plan to get my rather significant sized student loan paid off in one year! Although the payments will be as much as our mortgage, it can be done and will be well worth it in the end. At that point, my options will be wide open and I can continue working full time, possibly part time, or maybe not at all. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Giving my money away has never felt so good.
posted by Christie

the countdown begins

Although it doesn't release until October 11, I've already pre-ordered a copy of Derek Webb's DVD How to Kill and Be Killed. It will include some of his signature songs, such as I Repent and Wedding Dress, but will also showcase at least one song from his new album Mockingbird, set to release December 26. Derek is accompanied in his performance by a live band, which sometimes seems to take away that raw edge that makes his music what it is, but nevertheless, I'm sure the show will prove to be oustanding.
posted by Christie

Monday, August 15, 2005

spicing things up

I grew up with a particularly un-diversified palate. Mainly, we ate chicken - usually baked and always bland. Even salt was an edgy seasoning at my house. However, since being married I have been charting unknown waters, and generously using things like fresh garlic, rosemary, dill, corriander, oregano, basil and yes, even salt. So, this evening, I am going to embark upon a journey of cooking that so far, is unprecedented in our home. Here's the story. Several years ago, I saw this American Eagle t-shirt that said something about fish tacos. After gagging profusely in the corner for several minutes, I returned to normal, but still couldn't imagine the thought of ingesting the mentioned food. However, while in Seattle and being adventerous, we hit Taco Del Mar. Really, the truth is that it was raining and we didn't feel like searching for anything else, but that's beside the point. Anyway, inside we discover that we can't understand a word the employees are saying and vice versa. However, "fish tacos" must be a universal term because we said it and they slapped it on our plates. After being served, and enduring several minutes of apprehension, I decided to go ahead and taste the concoction. My mind was suddenly filled with images of tasteless childhood food and I came close to reverting, but I didn't. And to my surprise, the fish tacos were superb. Suddenly, all my fears were calmed, I relaxed and actually ate everything on my plate. Yet, since leaving the rainy city, we haven't had an opportunity to experience them again. However, I've found a recipe, and so this evening, baja heaven will be served up at 14 Quail Run. And yes, I'll probably even use a pinch or two of salt.
posted by Christie

the time has come

After being promised for months now, the new Relevant site is up and running. Although it is still in beta mode, it is eventually supposed to house a host of resources, including a broadband music video channel, staff blogs, and more. Check it out.
posted by Christie

Friday, August 12, 2005

it's a tough job

I intended to post this Friday Five a couple weeks ago, but forgot. So, here it is.

1. What was your first job?
Working in the Student Life Assebly Center at The Baptist College of Florida. It was an interesting job where I spent most of my time playing ping-pong and shooting down the advances of strange guys who wrote poetry for me, took out their teeth to impress me, and sang songs for me like "Unchained Melody."

2. How much did you make?
Only minimum wage, but I got to work about 30 hours/week, so it was enough for gas, eating out and a little shopping. You know, first things first.

3. Describe your least favorite co-worker of all time.
Well, I've only ever had two experiences in working alongside other people. And of course, most of them were women, so naturally they were all back-biting, rude and two-faced. Just goes with the territory.

4. What is your dream job?
My dream job would be to teach Church History or World Religions at a small college somewhere. Or maybe just to stay home and eat bon bons and watch Oprah all day. It really is a toss up.

5. What do you currently do and do you like it?
Currently, I manage the office of a privately owned hotel. Sometimes I get to do a little PR and advertising work also. Most days I don't desire to harm too many people, but having to get up at 5 a.m. sometimes contributes to me being mean, short-tempered and basically, pretty ill.
posted by Christie

Thursday, August 11, 2005

a bigger bang

Although Mick Jagger now claims that one of the cuts off their new album, "Sweet Neo-Con" isn't about George Bush, the lyrics definitely betray that thought. Although they have yet to be released in their entirety, the snippets floating about are covered with suspicion. The song boasts the line, "You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of s---." The Stones have set their politics to music before, with the release of the anti-oil, anti-war tune "Highwire," in 1991 during the Gulf War era. So certainly, a song in response to Bush's war on terror, or war against hostile agression, or struggle against radical extremists - or whatever they are calling it this week - was most definitely in order.
posted by Christie

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

family matters

I'm sure that being a parent isn't easy. Infact, I'm convinced that it's probably one of the toughest jobs on earth. I know that some people deal with almost impossible situations everyday that make it a struggle to adequately care for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of their kids. Yet, those facts still don't excuse the behavior exhibited by so many these days who embark upon the journey of parenthood. I often wonder what it is that goes through the minds of people when they fail to love and support their children. I see so many kids, who, with only a small amount of encouragement, could be saved from a lifetime of pain and hurt and failure. It's amazing to me the kids who even come from "good" homes, yet still don't feel affirmed and unconditionally loved. I don't really know the magic answer. I don't know what to do with the massive amount of kids who feel rejected and depressed and who will never have a good relationship in their entire life because of what their parents modeled. If only there were a quick fix...I would start administering it.
posted by Christie

making the band

I think that I'm going to take Michael's advice from a previous post, and never, ever, ever let anyone know when we're practicing music for Wednesday night. As if they had been cordially invited, three kids showed up yesterday evening, that I had to send packing. One kid came with his electric and acoustic guitars, ready to rock for Jesus - using only the G chord. Two friends tagged along with him, prepared to send us into musical bliss with their astounding bass and drumming ability. Yet, the one kid didn't even have a bass and the other only had drum sticks - but no drums. Definitely missing some key components necessary to enter the world of rock stardom. As if taking their very hearts and crushing them with my bare hands, I told them that the music was already covered. Despondent and dejected, the guys over-eagerness was replaced with a forlorness which I will probably never be able to adequately describe. So, as to not damage the very heart and soul of any more future musicians, I am now taking my operations underground. Sorry guys.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

water on the brain

My sweet nephew Daniel starts kindergarten today. And, he's one of those kids that I'm certain his teacher will never forget. Although she may desperately want to. Daniel is a smart, but mischievous, little boy who prefers having his college level marine biology book read to him over just about any other activity you could imagine. This summer, he's gone to the beach almost everyday to hunt for crabs and, in his own words, various other "crustaceans" to use for experiments. He's always got some sort of project going on, last weekend it was an "amphibian project" that he and his imaginary squid friend "Rum" were going to begin. He also has a "penguin project" in the works and plans to travel to the Arctic for that, with "Rum" of course. Daniel's obsession with cephalopods, mollusks, cuttlefish and other such deep sea life has led him to reject normal five year old television viewing, in exchange for old Jacques Cousteau videos his papa gave him. And he remembers every word. Hopefully, Daniel will have a good teacher who will work with him and funnel all his creativity in the right direction. Whatever the case, I'm sure his teacher will hear more about sea creatures than she ever wanted, even if it is on the way to the principal's office.
posted by Christie

Monday, August 08, 2005

what's old is new again

It's interesting that some of my favorite "new" songs, really aren't that new after all. I heard a great tune this summer for the first time, and after searching for it on the internet, found that it was a hymn written by a pastors daughter in the 1800s. History says that she was ill most of her life and was never able to marry or have children. However, she obviously grasped the wonder of a sovereign God who controlled everything in her life. Here are the lyrics.

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands One who is my Savior

I take Him at His word indeed
"Christ died for sinners," this I read
For in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my Savior

That He should leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange? So, once, did I
Before I knew my Savior

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace, from this Spring
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior!
posted by Christie

Thursday, August 04, 2005

finally tuned in

Back in November, I picked up the guitar, for what was really the second time. I'd done the same thing months before, but for some reason, never really grasped the basic concepts. I gave up within a few days and didn't think I would ever return to the instrument. However, through a series of events, I again was drawn to play. For whatever reason, this time, the guitar and I seemed to connect. And although I still need a ton of work, there has been an amazing amount of progress. So much infact, that next Wednesday night I am going to begin playing for the youth service at church. We're going to start off pretty simple, with songs like Here I am to Worship, How Deep the Fathers Love, Once Again and maybe even a few old hymns. We have some kids who could, at some point, potentially play other instruments along with me, and so hopefully, this is just the beginning...
posted by Christie

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

what a child saw

Earlier this year, aid workers near the Darfur region of Africa passed out crayons and paper to children to keep them occupied while their parents were being interviewed by Human Rights Watch. With only their imaginations to limit them, and without any instruction of what to draw, the children produced unbelievable images of death, war and genocide. One of the human rights workers involved noted the amazing ability of some of the children "to make stick figures show absolute terror." Here you can read about the conflict in Darfur and see more images drawn by children so profoundly affected by it.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

on a shoestring

Ever heard of Peluca? Well, me neither 'til recently. I knew something of its sort existed, but wasn't aware of much else. Anyway, it's an odd nine minute film that focuses on Seth, an uber geek, as he convinces friends to ditch their P.E. class with him and wander about their rural town of Preston, Idaho. Certainly by now I've given it away. If not, the sheer mention of things like nunchucks, boondoggle key chains, wolverines and a "freakin' 12-gauge" should probably jog your memory. Peluca spells the very beginning of nothing other than Napoleon Dynamite. Twenty-three year old Jared Hess, armed with just $500, shot this short film. After play at several festivals, MTV took note of the work and of course, the rest is "quesa-dilluh" history.
posted by Christie

of the quaterly aged

Yesterday, I turned twenty-five. Although part of me feels old and closer to thirty than ever before, another part of me realizes that this is one of the greatest times of my life. Rick got me a very special ring that I've wanted for a long time and also took me shopping for some perfume and clothing. We had a great time strolling the mall, looking in the bookstore, and just spending time together. We'd planned on indulging in a personal and local favorite, low country boil at Uncle Bubba's in Savannah, but ended up at the Macaroni Grill instead. Chain restaurants are never my favorite, but it worked best with our schedule last night and really turned out to be quite delicious...and interesting at the same time. Dan, our waiter, for some odd reason, felt compelled to tell us about losing his virginity, but I guess that's another story. Anyway, twenty-five has arrived and I welcome it with open arms. Not surprisingly, my further descent into twenty-somethingness was kicked off rather nicely last night.
posted by Christie

Monday, August 01, 2005

tell me no lies

Sunday morning I was listening to a sermon by a Southern Baptist pastor who is far from my favorite, but one that I thought at least preached biblical salvation. However, I was amazed as I heard him speak to an enormous congregation and completely misrepresent the essence of following Christ. His sermon was about dealing with the death of loved ones - and after he finished making everyone cry about Granny so and so, he made an emotional, unbiblical plea for salvation. He said (and I quote), "If you don't want to get saved for yourself, then at least do it for your family." He continued, telling everyone that if they weren't a member of a congregation, and they had a tragedy in their family, they would need support - so he then beckoned them to come and join the church. There was never any mention of Christ or of repentance. And of course, the aisles were flooded. However, it bothered me that probably most coming, were going to receive nothing more than false assurance. They were coming, not because the Holy Spirit had drawn them, but because a preacher had persuaded them to do this act so that they would feel better. What puzzles me is the purpose behind it all. Was the pastor trying to boost numbers? Was it a political move? I'm certain that he understands what the Bible says about salvation, so I wonder why he would preach something so opposed to it? Whatever the case, I hope that someone who made a decision truly experienced life change, despite the pastors words.
posted by Christie