Monday, August 29, 2011

Got Milk?

I like the British spellings of words. Colour. Favourite. Recognise. Moustache. Theatre. Realise. Somehow they seem more story-like, making an ordinary sentence extraordinary.

I also like how my computer thinks I spelled the word wrong, but really I didn't. It's like I know a secret my all-knowing internet doesn't.

And no, my title has literally nothing to do with this post. It was random. Like the words above.

Thank you, and have a simply smashing day, darlings! (Please read that with a British accent)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just A Little Theologizing

I don't really church hop. Not legit anyways. But I've tried a few churches on for size recently. I was raised Presbyterian and love the church I grew up in, New City Fellowship. But this past summer it just hasn't felt the same, so many people are gone and it was just different. I found Denver United in Denver and like it a lot. I love the worship, though sometimes I don't agree with all that is said in the sermons. I love Passage though, with all my heart. And then I've been going to the Journey here in St. Louis a little this summer as well. Denver United is non-denominational, and I don't know what the Journey is.

The problem with this minor amount of church-hopping is that I sometimes don't really agree all with the theology presented in the sermons. Like today at the Journey. The sermon was great, and I got a lot out of it. But at one point the pastor began talking about how there was a significant chance that all physical ailments (including a bad back) could be attributed to a problem in one's relationship with the Lord, and that by examining one's walk with Jesus and fixing that problem, the physical ailment would also be resolved. I could have misunderstood him, but that's what I took from it and I'm not sure I really agree with that. I don't believe that God orchestrates bad, and giving us physical illnesses to tell us we need to step up our game with Him seems like a punishment.

Anyways. There are often theological points I don't agree with, and part of this is because I haven't "picked" a specific denomination and theology as of yet. I've decided to simply be non-denominational and let it rest. I don't know what I believe about predestination. I don't care what age a person gets baptized at. I don't understand why it is such a big problem when women are pastors or deacons or elders at churches. It doesn't matter to me if communion is a weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, or completely randomized event. These are some of the things people fight over, the things that dictate different denominations, parts of people's theology.

Some things I don't care about. Some I don't understand. Others I don't know enough about to make a credible decision about and truly stand behind, and I will not believe something simply because my parents or pastor told me to. But here is what I do know, and here is what I believe. This is my theology: love. I believe in love so strongly. I believe in serving. And I believe in relationship.

When we get to heaven I suppose we can ask God about when we were "supposed" to take communion, if He cared what age we were baptized, or what He thinks about the songs we sing in church. But the only way we'll get to heaven to ask God our questions, is if we believe in Him, if we love Him with all our puny hearts, and if we serve Him with every breath. The message of the gospel is love! Jesus rebuked the pharisees so many times during his years on earth for their legalistic practices. I believe that what Jesus truly cares about is the simplest thing of all: love God first and love and care for your neighbor above yourself. That's my theology. That's what I believe.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Here and Gone

Death's just one of those things you never get used to. I mean I suppose if people were dying all around you, day in an day out, you'd become accustomed to it. But for the average Joe, I don't think we ever get used to death, dying, and destruction. 

Eating lunch and browsing/stalking (whatever you want to call it) facebook this afternoon, I came upon a status saying "RIP lil keith." There's a guy involved in my church youth program (now an adult, so really a helper with the youth program) named Lil Keith...

I scrolled down and saw another status, also from someone at my church, also in remembrance of a Lil Keith. 

I kept scrolling down. 

Another status, and another. 

I texted my friend, Karen. 

Lil Keith was dead. 

My first thought was that he'd been shot, since he lives (I think) in the ghetto. He used to, at least. Or spent a lot of time there. He wasn't shot. He just died, out of the blue. In the middle of a basketball game last night he collapsed, his heart stopped its beat of life, and he was gone.

I didn't know him that well, but the news still struck me and saddened me. I used to know him. A few years ago we went on a missions trip together to Arizona with my church youth group. It was an amazing trip. The team was fantastic, we all got along, and we had a wonderful time together. But that was years ago. 

Lil Keith wasn't very little. Actually he was pretty big. But he was smaller than Big Keith. I remember him always being at youth group my junior and senior years. Maybe sophomore too. I can't remember now. He and Big Keith were the life of the party, part of the group of kids from the Delmar area that Otto brought to the church every Wednesday night.

I've always been glad our church was like that. It wasn't just the church kids on Wednesday nights, we had a very diverse group. I feel like that really encompasses what New City Fellowship is about. Reconciliation and love and acceptance, being like Jesus, and Jesus loved everyone. 

But back to Lil Keith. 

He was loud-in-a-good-way and funny and had a great personality. As far as I could tell, everyone loved him. I never knew him super well, but he was a great guy from what I could tell. And from what I've heard from people today and seen on facebook status', he was a really great guy. Karen's facebook status said, "Keith was hilarious and encouraging and sometimes really frustrating and a great leader for the teams and a good friend to so many people. and he was only about 20. i don't understand it, keith, but I know God always brought good things from your life and I know He'll still do it now."

I think that's probably a good way to sum it up. And I don't know where he was spiritually when he died, since I never had those sorts of conversations with him, but Karen and Otto (our youth leader) and others are quite sure he had put his hope in Jesus. And so I plan to see him again in heaven.

Death always seems like such a bad thing. I wonder to myself, how could this happen to someone so great? Someone with so much potential? Someone who had a bad past and was stuck in a place that many people never get out of, but was instead making something of himself? A good guy? I wonder that. How, how could God allow something so bad to happen to someone? 

Then I realize. Death isn't a bad thing. Not for someone who believes. Maybe really it was a blessing, a gift. Keith doesn't have to deal with the bad of this world anymore. No more pain, no more hurt. No more bad relationships or getting sick. Nothing. Instead he gets to be in the best place imaginable, with the absolutely most wonderful Jesus ever. And that's not bad. That's beautiful. So my hope and prayer is that Keith is up there with Jesus right now, making Him laugh with made up words like "gword," which he made up on a missions trip in Arizona just a few years ago. 

RIP Lil Keith.

My Weird Crayon Representation of a Sunset That I Drew While Driving Home From Florida

I do believe the title says it all...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Could Be A Photo, A Picture Perfect Moment

We see so many digitally enhanced images these days. I spend so many hours editing and changing and enhancing photos to make the colors just perfect, the shades and hues balanced, the imperfections disappear. Maybe sometimes we forget what things really look like, true, natural, untouched beauty, because nearly every image we see in a book or on the internet has been fixed in some way. But this was real.

The setting sun sent shades of purple, orange, pink, and indigo dancing on the rippling waves and shining on the ocean. Waves lapped up on the edge of the beach, gently dragging back into the ocean, leaving a trail of wet sand, the liquid seeping into the earth. The sunset's colors reflecting on the leftover wave, liquid colors like the rainbows pooling up in puddles of oil in a mechanic shop, but pure and clean and beautiful. I jogged along the beach into the sunset, and it was like running on a liquid rainbow. I watched people play in the shallow waves. The water splashing up against their dark figures, black silhouettes against the setting sun. And I ran and ran, along the unending beach, into the mesmerizing pale purple and pink of an ending day.

When I turned to head back the sunset was behind me. But I found a new and different beauty. Different from the light colors of sunset, the sky was a deep indigo with a bright yellow moon slightly shrouded in the darker indigo clouds scattered through the sky. The light from the moon reflected in the ocean, its line of light broken and rippled by the movement of the waves. The beach was dark, the ocean deep green and blue. The city's skyline was visible far down the edge of the beach, lights from the building creating an orangeish glow in the air thick with salt and humidity. The glow surrounded the sky rises and faded into the deep indigo of the night sky. Little flashes of light reminding the still beach and gentle sound of lapping waves that reality still exists, even in the magical calm of nature.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Grapes and Googly Eyes

Small, random things, all fitting together, woven with words and strung together with adventures. Stories. When I was little my dad used to tell stories all the time. After dinner, during car rides, or when we were all just sitting in the living room together as a family, he would tell us stories. They weren't tales from his past. They weren't long-forgotten things he had read in story-books as a child. They weren't fairy tales he was re-telling from a book. They weren't traditional stories past down through the generations. They were just stories. Adventures he made up on the spot. I don't know how he did it, and perhaps he was drawing on past stories or knowledge he had acquired through the years. But to me, they were fantastic. And they were ours, specially told just for us, only to us, never to be heard again, as the plot would almost certainly be forgotten in a few days. We would each get to pick something, or if we were lucky, three somethings, to be in the story. I remember things like grapes and Peter Pan being frequent visitors to our stories. Peter Pan was, and still is, my favorite, so I loved to hear new adventures about him. Sometimes the tales would stretch on too long, and we would have to save Part Two for a different car ride. They were such good times, riding along in our suburban, dad's deep, strong voice filling the car with an adventure we became part of through his words. Sometimes they had morals, admonitions to us children through story, like when my little sister used to steal things from me, so I began to assume whenever anything went missing she was the culprit. The stories were simple, and today I'm sure they would seem silly and childish. But when I was little they were wonderful, sweet, and magical. A memory I will never forget.