Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Be You

"Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity not the standards by which I must live, but the standards by which I cannot help but live..."- Parker Palmer (taken from The Identity Project by Patrick Dodson.)

"After years of training to become a professional ballet dancer, artist Kylli Sparre realized it wasn’t the path for her and instead channeled passion for dance into photography and image manipulation. The influence of her past career is immediately apparent when viewing her conceptual photographs that depict posed figures, taunt with energy, at the peak of choreographed motion (taken from"

A common theme I hear when I talk to people is the struggle of having to choose a passion to focus on, whether they are just starting college and having to choose a major or whether they are out of school and now struggling with their choice and/or battling to find a career. Growing up we constantly have observers highlighting certain skills and advising a career path that expounds on those skills they've witnessed. For instance, in school I was really good at geometry and loved drawing buildings- I had multiple people tell me that I should be an architect, but I'm not an architect, that's not who I am; being good at geometry and loving old buildings are simply expressions of a very intricate identity, they are tells of deeper truths not direct lines to a future. Like I heard Patrick Dodson once say, "Who you are is not one thing, who you are is like fifty things." See it's not about finding that one thing that fits you, it's about listening to your life and bringing that uniqueness of you to the table and revolutionizing the status quo you face or have quite possibly erected yourself. "Letting your identity inform and reignite your passion grows clarity inside of you, which leads to ideas, dreams, plans and then choices that become a daily reality."- The Identity Project by Patrick Dodson

That's what I love about this photographer Kylli Sparre, she tried being one thing and that didn't work out (I'm sure we all can relate), but she didn't toss the one thing- she joined it with a melody of other passions creating something that is original, breathtakingly stunning, and uniquely her.

Don't just be another photographer. Don't just be another dancer. Be you.

*all photos were taken from

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The 5 Senses

If I were blind, I would rely on touch and sound, smells and tastes to guide me; I would be totally dependent on my other senses to communicate the atmospheric circumstances back to me. The sea would not be known by the picturesque scenery, but by the smell of the salty air, the sound of the waves crashing and the gulls cawing, the feel of the sand and the water, and the taste of sea's spray on my lips.

If I were deaf, the gap of sound would be filled with sights, sensations, smells, and tastes; true I would never know what wind would sound like, but I would see it and feel it in more ways than could be heard, perhaps I could smell the wind coming before it came and perhaps I could feel the birds sing when the sun rises because of the sensory song that it composes in me.

If I were stripped of my ability to feel, my eyes and my ears would be my hands, and my nose and my tongue my means of engaging and experiencing. True, I would never know texture or temperature, but I would know the fragrance of the grass and the taste of winter far more intimately than the simple touch of snow.


We say we serve an invisible God, yet we are made in His image. We say that God's voice is discerned and not heard, yet He speaks. We say that God is Spirit and cannot be touched, yet He touches us. We say that God is a heavenly being and is therefore not something to be tasted, yet He invites us to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. We say that God is a mystery and therefore incomprehensible to even think of smelling a Deity, yet He says that "we are the aroma of Christ" to Him.

If God is not to be experienced through the senses, then why give us eyes with which we cannot see Him, ears with which we will never hear Him, hands with which we cannot touch Him, tongues with which we cannot taste Him, and noses with which it is inconceivable to smell Him?

And if He is not to be seen in full glory, then oughtn't He be known to us as the sea is known to the blind? And if He is not to be audibly heard, then oughtn't the gap be filled with sights, encounters, tastes and smells? And if He is not one that can be touched, oughtn't we be looking and listening- knowing His fragrance and His taste far more intimately?

Yet it remains that eyes are for seeing, ears for hearing, hands for touching, tongues for tasting and noses for smelling; these are the tools given to us to perceive, connect, and engage with all that is around us. He is Emmanuel. He is God with us. Do you know what He smells like? Do you know what He tastes like? Do you know what He feels like? Can you call out His voice from a thousand others? Can you pick out His face in a crowd?

I think He's waiting to be discovered.

I think He's waiting for you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

If our personality was embodied in a mode of transportation; what would you be?

Would you be a bicycle? Laid back, relaxed. Old school. More concerned with enjoying the journey rather than arriving at any certain point.

Would you be a racecar? Competitive, driven. Always on the fast track. Wants to be the best and to be recognized.

A bus? (Double-decker if you're English) Supportive, carrying. Main purpose is to serve others and help them get to where they need to be. A Behind the scenes type.

A sedan? A truck? An airplane? A train? Rollerskates?

The point I wish to raise is this; if you can assess what/who you are, are you in the right place?

If you are a bicycle and have found yourself on a fast track surrounded by people zooming past you; are you in the right place? Even if it's a fast track you seek, there's still something better suited to who you are than the Indy 500. And if you are a bus, but you're forcing yourself to serve as a watermelon truck (you've seen them, you know what I'm talking about); are you serving as you were made to serve?

Just a thought for the day. You decide.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our Own Story by Frederick Buechner

"THE WORDS INSCRIBED on the Statue of Liberty where it stands on Bedloe's Island in New York harbor are familiar to all of us:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to be free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me;

I lift my torch beside the golden door.

It is not great poetry, perhaps, and many a cynical word could be spoken about how the golden door that the goddess of liberty lights with her torch turned out for many to be the door to a wretchedness greater than any they had left behind on the teeming shores of their homelands. But nevertheless I think the old words have power in them still, if we let them, to move us, to touch us close to where we live. And the reason they have such power, I believe, is that one way or another they are words about us. Whether we're rich or poor, whether our forebears came to this country on the Mayflower or a New England slave ship or a nineteenth-century clipper or in a twentieth-century jet, those huddled masses are part of who all of us are, both as individuals and as a people. They are our fathers and mothers. They are our common past. Yet it goes farther and deeper than that. They are our past, and yet they are also ourselves. In countless ways, both hidden and not so hidden, it is you and I who are the homeless and tempest-tossed, waiting on our own Ellis Islands for the great promise to be kept of a new world, a new life, which we haven't yet found. We are the ones who yearn to breathe free. We stand not merely like them but in a sense with them beside the golden door. To read the story of our immigrant forebears as it is summarized on the base of the old statue is to read our own story, and maybe it is only when we see that it is our own story that we can really understand either it or ourselves."

-Originally published in A Room Called Remember

Click Here to read more by Frederick Buechner


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Song 4 Thought: "All I Want" by Kodaline

I love it when song's lyrics are left open to interpretation, leaving room for the listener's creativity and soul to make their own story. One such song is "All I Want" by Kodaline. When I heard this song for the first time...well I'll let you listen to it first and then I'll share with you what I heard.

All I want is nothing more, to hear you knocking at my door. Cause if I could see your face once more, I could die a happy man I'm sure. When you said your last goodbye I died a little bit inside. I lay in tears in bed all night. Alone without you by my side.

But if you loved me, why'd you leave me? Take my body. Take my body. All I want is. And all I need is. To find somebody. I'll find somebody.

Like you you. See you brought out the best of me. A part of me I've never seen. You took my soul and wiped it clean. Our love was made for movie screens.

...Like you are all

From the first verse, for whatever reason, all I could hear was the cry of a disciple that walked with Jesus (be it Peter, John, Thomas, etc) during those days before Jesus rose from the grave. For all they knew, He had left them and this song, for me, spoke of their pain, dissappointment and longing. Tear soaked bellows begging for answers, "Why'd you leave me?" and the heavy reminiscent reply of their Last Supper with Him, "Take my body..." In Him laid all their hopes and for 3 days they grieved over a tomb that held both the Trusted and all entrusted. For 3 days they endured the most painful dissappointment none of us now need never fear, a dead Messiah...

Such treasures of insight- priceless.

What did you first hear? What do you hear now? What else do you hear? Because I'd love to hear it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Song for Eastertide

For many Christians Easter is the celebrated Resurrection Sunday, the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Most churches honor significant days leading up to His resurrection, namely Palm Sunday and Good Friday, but for the most part Easter ends on Resurrection Sunday.
Easter, I have learned, is a season of fifty days from Easter Sunday to the day of Pentecost in the liturgical calendar/Advent year. This time is known as Eastertide. Lent was a season preparing hearts to receive, recognizing our need for Him, as we led up to Easter; but now that Eastertide is upon us, it is time to receive.

There is a song out right now called Stay by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko. It's a conversation between a man and a woman, but in its lyrics and steady hammering drone I hear another conversation -a confession meeting an invitation; the sweet raw conflict that exists before the final bolt cut letting Him in. In this song I hear the crossing over from Lent into Eastertide; from recognizing our need to receiving.

Stay by Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

All along it was a fever
A cold sweat hot-headed believer
I threw my hands in the air, "Said show me something."
He said, "If you dare come a little closer."

Round and around and around and around we go
Oh now tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know

Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can't live without you
Oh it takes me all the way
I want you to stay

It's not much of a life you're living
It's not just something you take, it's given

Round and around and around and around we go
Oh now tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know

Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can't live without you
Oh it takes me all the way
I want you to stay

Ooh the reason I hold on
Ooh cause I need this hole gone
Funny you're the broken one but I'm the only one who needed saving
Cause when you've never seen the light it's hard to know which one of us is caving

Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can't live without you
Oh it takes me all the way
I want you to stay

May we let Him stay. May we stay. It reminds me of the last line in "Come Thou Fount" saying, "Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lord's Prayer by Frederick Buechner

Excerpt from Listening To Your Life by Frederick Buechner:

In the Episcopal order of worship, the priest sometimes introduces the Lord's Prayer with the words, "Now as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say..." The word bold is worth thinking about. We do well not to pray the prayer lightly. It takes guts to pray it at all. We can pray it in the unthinking and perfunctory way we usually do only by disregarding what we are saying.

"Thy will be done" is what we are saying. That is the climax of the first half of the prayer. We are asking God to be God. We are asking God to do not what we want but what God wants. We are asking God to make manifest the holiness that is now mostly hidden, to set free in all its terrible splendor the devastating power that is now mostly under restraint. "Thy kingdom come..on earth" is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what would fall? Who would be welcomed in and who would be thrown the Hell out? Which if any of our most precious visions of what God is and of what human beings are would prove to be more or less on the mark and which would turn out to be phony as three-dollar bills? Boldness indeed. To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.

You need to be bold in another way to speak the second half. Give us. Forgive us. Don't test us. Deliver us. If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God's, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours. We can do nothing without God. We can have nothing without God. Without God we are nothing.

It is only the words "Our Father" that make the prayer bearable. If God is indeed something like a father, then as something like children maybe we can risk approaching him anyway.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Justice is a Garment

Our generation has more global exposure than any other generation before it. Daily we have images of sufferring worldwide flashed before our eyes. As a result of having so much exposure, it takes a lot to grab our attention; everything, from movies to news and groups, have had to up the ante if they're to get people to take notice. And when it comes to social causes you find people so desperate for action that they too have upped the rating on their material in hopes that it'll serve as a bucket of cold water over a sleepy ADD generation.

There is so much gore, so much darkness, so much devastation in how people talk about issues facing our world. And I do believe that the people sharing their horror stories are genuinely hoping that it will get people to act and that they are of the best intentions, however, intentions will never serve as proper justification for anything. And nor will good intentions justify the further exploitation of the exploited.

Picture this: A man is trying to get a group to act against human trafficking, particularly as it pertains to the sex industry. In an effort to get at your heart he shares his chilling experience of seeing sex-trafficking first hand. He shares the disgust he felt at the scene and goes into somewhat graphic detail describing what he saw. He then shares how it changed his life and how he hopes hearing about it will change yours. The End.

I ask you; who is honored in this story? Certainly not the soul that they are trying to solicit action on behalf of.

Exposure is a delicate thing. Any exposure you gain is really an entrusting. You have been entrusted with someone's story and being entrusted with that story does not necessarily make it yours to share; and should you ever share it it should be shared in such a way that would honor them should they ever hear you tell it.

Try to think of it like this: In Genesis 9 we read of a certain time where Noah became drunk and was naked in his tent. One son came into the tent, saw his father's nakedness and ran and told his other two brothers. The other two brothers then wrapped a garment over their shoulders and walked backwards into the tent to cover their father in such a way that they would not see their father's nakedness and expose him. Which of the three brothers do you think were honored for their approach?

Is it our responsibility to expose or is it our responsibility to honorably cover?

At the heart of every issue and every story lies a person; a person with feelings and rights, a person worthy of protection- protection even from good intentions. And at the end of every day people are motivated by hope more than they could ever be motivated by despair. So why don't we concern ourselves with how we facilitate hope rather than how we facilitate conviction? Let us truly honor the souls that have captured our hearts and our attention rather than honoring the darkness that victimizes them. Let them be honored in how we speak of them and think of them rather than being embarrased by our words exposing their nakedness. Instead, let us be like the two brothers who backed in and covered their father. Let us be like our Father Who saw our ancestor's, Adam and Eve, embarassment at their own nakedness and made them clothes.



Defiant- boldly resistant or challenging

Have you ever thought of God's love as defiant?

Do you picture a Man so bent on holding you that He boldly opposes all obstructions in His path? A Man so fixed on loving you that He challenges every rivalry that stands between you and He?

Obsessed? Perhaps, but He is the only one in this relationship that still remembers what it was like before sin came to be. He is the only one who still remembers what it looked and felt like to have pure untainted desire. He is jealous for it. He is jealous for us to return to it, to Him. And because we cannot get there ourselves He defiantly stands at our aid waging the war for us.

The Love of God by Frederick Martin Lehman

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell.

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled

And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;

When men who here refuse to pray,

On rocks and hills and mountains call;

God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,

All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

a Little great

Hasn't it always been the awareness of little things that makes something great?

Seinfeld was famous for being the show about nothing. But it wasn't nothing was it? The show took something insignificant and overlooked and it confounded upon it until it became a part of your life. I mean can any of us look at soup the same again?

And comic legends are usually not the ones who are the most boisterous, but the ones who best got inside your head by taking the mundane everyday details of life and drawing your attention to it. I think of Bill Cosby every time I see chocolate cake thinking, "Daddy's great! He gives us chocolate cake!" Or Tim Allen every time I vacuum. Or Ellen Degeneres whenever I take the elevator.

JR Tolkien took a hobbit, the smallest and most unlikely of creatures, and made him the hero.

C.S. Lewis took children and made them kings and queens.

Ansel Adams looked at nature and deemed it worth the expense to make the land the subject and not the background.

Vincent Vangogh looked at a vase and flowers and made it a masterpiece.

And while others continue to try to imitate and reproduce genius such as these, our generation has its own little galleries calling our attention to insignificant, mundane, overlooked things and making us take notice. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Tumblr. All calling on the attention of others beckoning them take notice of what one found. And what have we found in return? That there is beauty, wisdom, and blessings to be found everywhere.

Sure there's a lot of flack to be said about our social media, but these are platforms and we the keepers- the curators, if you will. I have been most blessed by my friend's social galleries where they take an unabashed stance on what they see and boldly share it.

Remember, no man looks at life, love, the world, or faith in the exact way you do. It is an honor to look through the eyes of another and an even greater honor to have someone choose to look through yours.

So go on and take the picture of the coffee cup, the water drop, the road, the flower, and the bird. Go on and draw or paint the leaf, the tree, the ocean shore. Go on and write about love and fairy tales, redefine and restate the common revelations. Go on and find the little things and bless us with your unique and one-of-a-kind perception. And one day may you find that great was in the little.


Monday, January 28, 2013

The Great Gardener

Last week I planted some sweet onions starting from the bulbs. In one week I have seen incredible growth. It's very interesting how I, their gardener, can look out on them and see how far they've come since I planted them, but observers separated from the process don't see the growth nor feel the excitement like I do. Every time I look out on them I smile because I'm just so elated and tickled by their progress, something which, in return, affirms and encourages me as their gardener.

What incredible insight into our Gardener. When He looks on us He doesn't focus on what we have not yet fully become, but rejoices in the growth that is so very obvious to Him; growth that we are, all too often, oblivious of within ourselves. But God, the Perfect Gardener and our Creator, is so involved in our journey and so pleased at our growth. Size is really not of much consequence to Him. He knows the end result and knowing the end result does not deminish the joy to be had in the journey. I know that in the end I will have an onion, the size of which will be significantly more impressive than the small green shoots that exist now, but it doesn't matter; I am excited to see it becoming an onion. And our Creator is excited to see us becoming who we were meant to be, rejoicing over every "little" growth that makes us who we are.

If we truly understood how our Creator looked on us, how would that change how we live and love? Instead of beating ourselves up everyday over all that we are not, if we learned to delight in the journey and take joy in the growth; what affect would that have? Instead of waiting for what we will become, receiving the blessing of our Creator's pleasure in who we are and how far we have come at that moment in His gaze?

Did you know that to gaze means to look intently and steadily, especially in admiration, surprise or thought? Did you know that's how He looks at you?


Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Voice Audition Experience

Unbeknownst to most, I signed up long ago to audition for The Voice and had since been preparing. My motivation: Why not? I wasn't really hoping to make it onto the show, I was just really curious to see how far I could go and what the whole experience would be like. So here's what it was like:

My audition was at 2pm. We left the house at 6am, got to Atlanta around 11:30 and I was in line by noon. I was really glad I got there early because I was only about 20 feet from the registration table and if I had been any further away, the wait might have killed me. Waiting for registration was the longest process, but it gave you a chance to meet a lot of interesting and talented people. While waiting in line (and even in the bathroom) people were singing, playing guitar, talking, eating; one girl even brought a pillow and was chillin in line. A couple of times one of the staff came round with a megaphone and would give the crowd songs to sing which not too many people joined in on until she requested we all stand and sing the national anthem and then everyone sang. It was an awesome, chilling sound to hear all these talented singers in perfect harmony. And at that the registration was over, we were grouped off into groups of ten, sat down and waited to be called back. When we were called back, we were led to another waiting area, then to another hallway with ten doors each opening up to another room with 10 chairs and a producer- This is where your audition would begin and end. We went in, she called our names at random and we said our name, where we're from and our song and then we sang a verse and a chorus and were done. At the end of everyone singing she politely informed that she needed more time to think about one person, but that she was going to pass on the rest of us and that was it.

Now as for what I enjoyed; I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet so many talented people, the energy of being amongst such creativity was unlike any other. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive of one another, everyone wishing each other good luck and anytime someone came out with a red card (meaning they made it to the second audition) the crowd went wild with applause and congratulations. The coolest part, by far, was as myself and the other 9 were waiting outside the room we were going to audition in one girl turned around and asked if we believed in God and could we pray. So right there in front of the audition room we all circled up and thanked God for the gifts He had given us and the chance to be on a stage for Him. Such a cool experience.

Now obviously I didn't get chosen, or else that would have already been mentioned, but not making it is nothing to be ashamed of. There were 5 people I sang with that had phenomenal voices and even they got passed on. The thing is that you are singing in front of ONE producer and that ONE producer has a certain type they are waiting for and just because you don't fit that mold they are looking for that does not reflect on your talent; a truth which the producers themselves graciously affirmed.

Auditioning was a great experience and I'm so glad that I did it! It will be exciting to see if anyone that I got to meet made it to the blind auditions, and if so I'll be rooting for them. Auditioning also made me remember why I love music. I didn't really enjoy the added competition factor into the art I so love. I love music because it's an avenue for me to pour out through and in so doing, be filled. It's not about being the best, fitting the mold, or being popular or sought after; it's about loving the art and so blessing through it.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

This Present Gift

I'm always confused, rather disturbed, by Christians who speak resentfully of the earth; saying things such as, "This world has nothing for me." To which my reply is, "Then why did He put you here, I wonder?"

We've grown up with teachings telling us to live for heaven, store up your treasures in heaven, you weren't made for this earth, don't focus on this life- focus on the life to come, etc.

The teachings of course are good-intended and can be traced back to the Bible, but the Bible is full of balance and part of the scale here, I feel, is missing.

The earth is far more than your in-between, your purgatory. I think it is even far more than a training ground. It is our world. And put the emphasis on our. It is our present and, as such, it is a gift.

Have you seen this place?! Have you seen the beauty that has been planted here?! The first thing we learn about when we open our Bible is about God as Creator. We see the care and the creativity He put into making this beautiful planet we so take for granted. God said, "It is good." and we say, "Not good enough."

Are we so arrogant as to resent, or even despise, the earth that our God created? And if it is a training ground then do you really think that your attitude toward it is not being taken note of? Oughtn't we to love the things He loves and hate the things He hates? Oughtn't we to care for the things He cares for and has thusly entrusted to us?

Why did He put you here? Was it simply to do and to wait? Or was it to be?

Just a thought.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sacred Speakings

In 1Samuel 19 Saul begins his trail of attempts at killing David, his enemy. At one point David flees to the prophet Samuel and hides with him until Saul gets word of David's whereabouts and he seeks him there.

Here's the scene: David and Samuel are at a place called Ramah with a company of prophets. Saul sends messengers to capture David. When they come close they see a company of prophets prophesying and the Spirit of God comes upon them and they too prophesied. Saul finds out and sends another group of messengers. Same thing happens. Saul sends a third group- same thing happens, they all prophesied. So what does Saul do? Well if you want something done right you do it yourself; right? Right. So he goes. And what happens? The Spirit of God comes upon him and he stripped off his clothes, laid naked all day and night, and prophesied.

God's presence so powerful that men sent, ultimately, for destruction are overcome by it and prophesy. God's presence so powerful that enemies prophesy.

Have you ever noticed how people like to divide and classify what is sacred and what is secular? And by so dividing they give God an allotment of what He may speak to them through. Because if God is only in the music deemed sacred, then there's no business listening to the music deemed secular...because He's not they might say.

What we have done by creating this man-made divide of sacred and secular is that we have deafened ourselves from hearing more, blinded ourselves from seeing more, and handicapped ourselves from experiencing more.

Everything is sacred.

And if we, God's people, carry His presence in us then oughtn't our life and daily interactions with the world take on the happenings of 1Samuel 19? Where all that approached prophesied? If we carry His presence in our comings and goings, that means that everything we approach has the ability to speak to us and to prophesy. The graffiti on the wall, the dying oak, the Muslim, the drunk on the corner, the rap on the radio, the toy isle in the store, a cold cup of coffee....

Do you believe His presence is powerful enough to speak through anything? Even the things that disgust you, anger you, and even hurt you?

There are millions of things out there prophesying, even the rocks and trees cry out. Will you listen? Will you approach? Or will you limit yourself to your segregation? You decide.