Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Journeying Prayer

I was just looking through one of my favorite books, Punk Monk by Andy Freeman, again and (re)struck by one of the sections.

The idea of our relationship with Christ being a “journey” is pretty well accepted by Christians. In one chapter, Freeman talks about journeying with God, journeying after God and journeying for God. Think of all the great epic stories in literature (or movies, although the book’s better!)… journeys are tough. We’re not staying at a resort. We’re roughing it. Journeys mean not taking the sissy way around, but instead, going THROUGH. Because the other side’s better. The other side’s where God wants us.

And for some reason (despite admitting intellectually otherwise), we struggle with the struggling. Don’t get me wrong, we may be able to admit God has a purpose, and we should work through our feelings to get to a place of peace and trust. But life is a journey, and that includes all the typical ups and downs of journey life. But thankfully, I have a hope for the other side.

Here’s A Journeying Prayer from Punk Monk:

Jesus, take me once again on a journey.
Take me to the city,
Take me to the valley and to the mountain,
Take me to the desert.
Take me to the place of wandering,
The place of hunger,
The place of solitude and of pain.
Take me to the place where You seem so far away
Yet only You are there.
Remove my crutches of possessions,
Remove the pillars of my faithless life,
Remove all the thumbs I suck.
And there in that place where nothing is left,
There refine my soul.

This is what happens when I’m home from church sick ;)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why I Do What I Do

I’ve had people ask. Honestly. Why do I do what I do? There are multiple reasons why I love it. Yes, I obviously need to pay bills somehow, and yes, I do love books. A lot. A LOT, a lot. And yes, there is something about me that likes that I am the one who’s allowed to make a lot of noise in the library. Because I do. Make a LOT of noise. Not gonna lie. And my boss actually lets me! Telling your kids to use "library voices" is apparently no longer a good idea! 0:) (But for the record, I am (relatively) quiet when a program's not going on.)

So… why do I love my job? The obvious answer. Simple really. Kids. I stinkin’ love working with kids. And the people who bring them in can be kind of cool, too! These kids make me smile and laugh out loud. Case in point, two boys singing (tone deaf) the Carpet Square Song on the top of their lungs, faster than me... just because they were so excited. Or who can keep a straight face when a two year old raises his hand in the middle of storytime and goes, “Miss Erin, I tooted.” Follwed by un-imitatable preschool giggle. I can’t! Or how preschoolers make friends... Girl 1: Do you want to be friends? Girl 2: Sure. Girl 1: What's your name? Hahaha! Kids keep me on my toes, give me a challenge, help me see things through a purer lens, and they are so honest, sometimes brutally so! Miss Erin, is it time for craft yet?

Plus, I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to hear a kid who had previously hated reading talking to his friend about a book that he loved that I had recommended for him. I had one kindergartener bragging about the History of Poop book I showed him. (Yes, I buy books about poop.) Or when I see a certain little near-three year old getting into "the storytime swing of things" (Yes, Danielle!)… and that boy's smile is simply contagious! Seeing kids grow to love the library and see it as a “cool” place to be (because it’s not easy convincing kids that a building full of books can be fun!)... that makes my day :)

And those are just some of the reasons.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Civility in Civil Liberties

A lot of thoughts and emotions running through my head after the election. I don't want to start some huge political debate, but honestly, I wasn't satisfied with either of my choices. In the end, I voted for the person who had the most beliefs/stands in common... saving human life being the most important, and who I thought had more experience and was better equipped to lead our nation. Say all you want about Barack Obama being "change", but I haven't seen enough to prove that he's capable of carrying out anything he says he'll do. There are many other reasons, but those are the two main ones: more common beliefs and experience.

But, like many people, I think we saw the writing on the wall long before Election Day. I knew what would happen at the end of the day. Instead, the thing that I struggled with as the day went on (even the weeks prior) is just how uncivil we are in exercising our civil liberties. It made me so sad to hear conversations, see comments on Facebook or read/hear news on TV or online covering the election. People can be just plain horrible to each other! This country is founded on democracy. Choice. And whether I like it or not, agree with you or not, I have no right to rip you to shreds for your beliefs. I can kindly disagree. But as a Christian, I hold myself to a higher standard: to still love someone I disagree with on various issues. It's hypocritical of a Christian to talk about love, to talk about their moral decisions for voting... and then completely attack someone who believes differently. I am not saying that I choose to accept everyone else's beliefs. NO, I am very firm about what I believe and why. I will not even hide the fact that I disagree with someone. But I can tell someone that I disagree in a way that honors that individual as a person made in God's image. I don't want to make a broad generalization that everyone has acted horribly to each other, because there were definitely things I saw that spoke of the kindess of people. But I'd have to say from what I heard and saw the past few days/weeks, one side dominated the other.

And while I'm speaking of respect, I've been sad to see the way that President Bush has been ripped apart, as well. Whether you voted for him or not, still approve of him or not, he is our president. The same way that we need to respect and pray for Barack Obama, we need to respect our current president. We give one (hu)man way too much credit if we believe that this one man alone is the cause of all our nations problems, and on the flip side, we give one (hu)man way too much credit to believe he is the answer it to it all. I would believe this no matter who had won. These are men, albeit powerful men, but men. In my knowledge there has only been one time in history that God has walked this earth in human form.

So things may not have ended the way I'd have chosen, but I can choose how to respond... and I want to choose to love... and to pray and trust my God, Who's bigger than any one presidential election. He knows what He's doing even when I'm not clued in on the big picture.

Nothing about books, just something that's been on my heart the past few days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dealing with Disappointment

So I recently read a book that I was really looking forward to reading. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. The story sounded right up my alley, early reviews were great, pretty high first printing for an unknown author's debut young adult book. I was so impatient and hoping this would be a new favorite, so I bought it the week it came out without having read it from work first.

So the review? Good idea for a story: Katsa lives in a seven kingdom region, the niece of one of the kings, and is "graced". A grace is basically a "super power"... and could be anything from cooking to fighting to swimming. Katsa has grown up believing her grace is killing, after she accidentally killed a man who tried to attack her as a child. It turns out that her grace is something entirely different. Since this is a coming of age story, Katsa grows, putting her foot down with her dominating uncle, sees who she really is, learns to let people in. The story is well-written, the characters developed, the dialog great. I loved how Katsa grows into her true grace. But what I didn't like was the unnecessary sexual relationship between the Katsa and another graceling from one of the other kingdoms, Prince Po. Loved his patience with her and her slowly letting her walls down in order to care about someone. Didn't think the way it played out was necessary... especially for a young adult novel.

So after all the anticipation of reading this story, despite the good writing and story in general, that one thing left me feeling disappointed. I know no book is perfect. Ahhh, but wait, there is ONE book that is! This weekend, a few days after finishing the book, I was at my church for a teacher training class. I've taught lessons for the small groups I've lead over the year and my work is kind of like teaching, but I know I'll never know everything. I always love learning new things, and I've had the guy teaching the class for adult electives in Sunday School before and he is one of the best teachers I've ever had. So anyway, I went to this class. As we're going through exercises of studying the Bible as a teacher, we talked about reading the Bible and examining the details... finding something new with every reading. We read different translations. And wouldn't you know it, during that class, something new popped out. The Bible never changes, but every time, I can find something new and exciting that God will show me inside His Word... if my heart's just open and available. So I know I already knew this, but during the class I was just struck... I can never be disappointed in God's Word. (Maybe disappointed in my reaction to His Word, but that's a whole other post!) Books I read for personal enjoyment, work, whatever... while they might somehow even minutely miss the mark for me, the Bible never will. Like it's true Author, it'll never disappoint. And for that, I'm eternally thankful.