Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cyber Housecleaning

Why is it so much easier to houseclean online spots than it is my real life house?

You may notice some changes on the side. Some older links taken down (Keer - if you start blogging again I'll put you back up) and a link to Louie Giglio's blog added. And a new color on top. Nothing huge.

Bigger news is that I finally took the plunge yesterday and picked up a webhost. My smugmug account for my photos is due to expire in March and I'm not keen on spending $60 a year for a hosting service that doesn't let me do things the way I want to do them or have things look the way I want them to. I'm sure the new site will have lots of challenges (challenge #1 - designing the new site), but I'm looking forward to having something more professional and in my control. I'll let you know when there's something worth seeing.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Plan (a Continuation of The Project)

So, now I have this great World Vision project idea in my head and can't get rid of it. So I prayed about it some more. Slowly it started taking shape in my head.

I already had a planned meeting with one of the church deacons that week and added the project at the end of the discussion. "Happened" that the deacons were meeting that weekend and would bring it up. That weekend I talked to the pastor (who, by chance is on sabbatical until March) and got his approval. Got the approval of one of the leaders willing to take it under their "umbrella" and got at least passing approval from a member of our African congregation.

And this thing is just over a week old.

Before I leave for Christmas I write a few more emails and contact the World Vision folks to let them know we're doing this. They ask what # of boxes is the goal. Without thinking I write down 100. Don't know why now, but it was definitely 100.

Fast forward to after Christmas. I ask my prayer group to start praying. This is when things start to speed up. I hear back from my friend who's a member of the African congregation and not only are they on board, but they want to be a big part of this happening. He asked what work could be done. This is a huge answer to prayer, since I need help and I also felt I needed visible support of the African congregation. When I talk to the whole African congregation they are very excited and ask me how what my goal of boxes filled for the church is. I'm a little afraid as I admit 100 boxes (which seemed ambitious to me). They laugh and say they will fill 100 boxes and will challenge the church to match that. Keep in mind each box costs about $25, so 100 boxes is a lot of money.

My friend who's an IV leader on campus signs up to bring this to the campus.

I present the plan to my small group. One of my friends in the small group had previously commented that our group should commit in a big way and go for 50 boxes (our group has 12 people). Seems impossible. Group members start signing up and someone comes to this friend and offers a matching donation of up to $500. Um.... wow!

Then I go to visit the youth group. I blogged about this. They are a pretty terrifying lot - about 40 of them and most junior high boys. As I'm talking they're talking, throwing things, eating, etc. Yet, at the end of the night they commit to 40 boxes. The youth leader puts down a $100 bill and tells them it's only their's if they can match it. Then, during the week another $500 matching offer comes in to the youth group.


I'm not even announcing this to the church until February 18th and already we have $1100 in matching funds put up and almost twice my original goal commited.

It's a bit odd to be on such a runaway train. Exciting, but overwhelming. As the days pass since I first realized this was what I had to do I've learned more and more and felt the burden heavier and heavier on my heart. Each and every time there was something I needed and I prayed for it, the answer would be right there. "Coincidences" keep happening that can't just be coincidences. And through it all it's been so obvious that this has nothing at all to do with me. It's been a fun way to learn that lesson.

So, for those of you out there who have read the saga, care to join the runaway train? We still need money for shipping and I'm quite sure the youth group or my small group would be happy to take donations as well. All the money is going through my church, so it's tax deductable. I also really need people praying. Let me know know if you want to do either so I can fill you in with more details.

Something big is happening and I'm just so excited to be a witness to it all.

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I was kidding....

I was kidding when I said Jack Bauer (24) was the ultimate moral authority. This guy is not:

You don't need to watch "24" as a kind of primer on moral philosophy, but you probably should.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Not Helping

I must interrupt this very important blog series to feature the DUMBEST PRODUCT EVER alert.

This is a truly stupid idea. "Stop HIV: Spray to Change Attitudes"???? Because a "rougeberry" smelling perfume will change the world? Seriously? I don't think it's just that this product would kill me that makes me hate it with every fiber of my being. Well, maybe that makes me hate it more than I ordinarily would, but I would still hate it. Makes a mockery of real work in HIV. Almost like a mock-product, only for real.

Shut up Body Shop! Shut up MTV! Go be cool somewhere else.

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The Project

If you're a regular reader you know I think a lot of Bono. I've always thought he was interesting, but in the summer of 2004 I read the book Bono In Conversation. I thought I was just going to learn more about the band, but I ended up with a lot more than I bargained for. Finishing the book I couldn't look at Africa the same way again and I couldn't get the AIDS crisis out of my head.

The burning question was, what could one person do about it?

Flash forward to the Perspectives class last year. Got a whole new perspective (no pun intended) on being a global Christian. Still didn't see how this worked in with the other issues I was concerned about. Meantime, I'm reading up on DATA and some other organizations. One of the key things I got out of the course (in regard to social justice issues) is that I'm called to be a mobilizer. Not that I shouldn't do things too, but I'm good at putting things together that will get people to examine what their call might be.

Flash forward to my trip to England and my time at the Northumbria Community. One night at dinner I was sitting with a man named Roy who's involved with End Poverty Now. So, I ask him "what can one person or a small band of people do to make a difference?" So glad I asked. Roy talked about the people in Birmingham who had prayed about how to impact global poverty issues. They received an answer that seemed small in human understanding, but they were faithful in executing it and it led to big impacts. He talked about doing things, that the impact of small things is often much bigger than we know.

So I prayed about it.

In late November I was preparing for Night Watch and my section on World AIDS Day. I was reading through statistics, the latest news and key issues we should be addressing. One of the sites I visited was World Vision. In the midst of lots of great information, cool projects and initiatives I found something small. It was the Caregiver Kits project. Nothing fancy. Won't cure AIDS or change the face of the world.

And I couldn't forget about it. For days. Then a week. Couldn't get to a month because I had to do something about it.

Continued next with The Plan....

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Saturday, January 27, 2007


Watched an amazing movie tonight called Yesterday. It's about a woman in rural South Africa with HIV. Definitely took me out of my white middle class American mindset. I highly recommend it. Bring kleenex.

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Friday, January 26, 2007


It should tell you something about the weather here today that everything I own either says "Figure Skating" or "Canada" on it. Today is not a day for mere mortals or fashionable attire.

Leaving my house this morning I was wearing an LL Bean turtleneck (from Maine where people know how to make clothes for the cold), a figure skating fleece vest, a Roots Canada fleece sweater and my winter jacket. That's layering people! The problem came when I got in the car and a) had a hard time getting behind the steering wheel, and then b) had a hard time driving due to my bulkiness. Shoulder checks had the interference of scarves, collars and hats. It generally is hard to maneuver when you're twice your normal width. Added to that, when I was zipping up my jacket I accidently caught my nose in the zipper. How do you do that?? Seriously? It takes an unprecidented level of clumsiness!

For those not here, the temperature when I left my house this morning was 2 (that's -17 for those playing along at home in Canada) with a windchill of -10 (-23 in Canada). Too cold! Of course, I should be thankful I was going to work as I really can't afford to heat my house on days like this!

Hope everyone's safely inside and warm!

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Thursday, January 25, 2007


Relevant magazine currently has an article up about the release of George Barna's Revolution in soft cover.

This book first came to my attention last November when I was looking for something that might grab my father's attention to buy him for Christmas. Barna is a well known Christian pollster and is always tracking trends in the church.

Here's Relevant's take on the key message of the book:
Barna’s research has identified an unsettling trend: Increasing numbers of Christians have become fed up with the Church and are not taking it anymore. This may not sound like news to some, except for the fact that these people do not seem to be your typical "bedside Baptists," but passionate followers of Christ. In fact, Barna sees them as the leaders of an entirely appropriate revolution, which he likens to the Reformation itself. He paints an urgent picture of the situation:

Existing churches have a historic decision to make: to ignore the revolution and continue business as usual, to invest energy in fighting the revolution as an unbiblical advance or to look for ways of retaining their identity while cooperating with the revolution as a mark of unity and genuine ministry. My current research suggests that the latter approach will be the least common.

Pollsters are very good at identifying trends, and often at putting their finger on the problem based on the data. I don't doubt that there are people pushing at the constraints of "church", but I think it's more helpful to ask why. And not in a sound bite. Comparing the current situation to the Reformation is pretty dramatic. If things are truly that extreme, why don't we see it more evident?

This is not to say that I don't agree that there is a growing group of people who aren't satisfied with how things have always been done. I know I am. I'm tired of prayer meetings where we don't pray and worship times when we don't worship. I'm tired of the expectation that church is a social obligation and nothing more. I'm tired of lowest common denominator small groups.

What I disagree on is that what's happening is a unified revolution. I think people are walking away for a variety of reasons and not one thing that everyone's getting wrong. I don't think one person can write one book that will sweep the nation and fix everything. Churches aren't responding well because (at least in my case) what's wrong is so fundamental they don't know how to address it and a radical response is out of the question.

I also don't agree with Barna's conclusion that the answer is to sit outside the church armchair quarterbacking and picking and choosing the small bits we agree with. Christianity isn't a hobby. You're not picking out the country club that best fits you. Christianity isn't something you do in isolation. We're called to be in community. If the North American church isn't working then we have to figure out what is a better response to the teaching of the Bible.

The Reformation? Probably not. A time to look what being a passionate follower of Christ looks like? Absolutely.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Discipleship Journal

Has anyone heard of the magazine Discipleship Journal? I've never heard of them before, but I got a subscription offer in the mail today and it scared me a bit.

There's a picture of one of the covers with the following headlines:
"You May Already Know GOD'S WILL"
"20 Ways to WAKE UP Your Quiet Time"
"When It's WRONG to BE RIGHT"
(capitalization theirs)

Seriously? Doesn't that sound like any other sensationalized magazine cover? Or a sweepstakes offer? Are they mocking magazines or is this for real? Should I be scared?


Boring Life

January is definitely here and everything has fallen into a fairly dull pattern. Given all of the recent excitement, the drama unfolding, etc, boring is actually a decent spot for a change of pace. It's interesting to see my weekends stretching ahead without being crammed full of events and it's nice for a couple of hours to feel like the drama might be subsiding.

So, nothing much new to report for now. The Francis Chan talk from Passion is now up on iTunes and I highly recommend getting it. I'm listening to it now for the second time and catching things I didn't hear the first time.

Oh, and I cleaned my house on Saturday. I guess that counts as news in my house. Found $50 in cash and checks. You'd think I'd be motivated to clean more often with that kind of a payoff.


Sunday, January 21, 2007


Over the last week I've had to do some ethics training at work. This consists of long boring modules of online reading followed by silly quizes. Quizes that they make it shamelessly easy to cheat on.

Anyhow, since my ethics are set by God, not some governing board, I felt free to amuse myself while reading the dry text. Turns out these things are much more interesting if you start keeping tally of ethical violations by Jack Bauer (24), Dr. Gregory House (House) and the gang on Grey's Anatomy. The bad news is that television is probably not the best place to learn ethics. Who knew?

The good news is that tv kept me amused enough to keep me from cheating on the ethics course. I may be the first to do the whole thing legitimately!

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Nothing to Fear but Teenagers

Tonight I'm going to talk to the church youth group about the AIDS/Africa project. I can stand in front of hundreds or thousands of people - no problem. 30 middle school boys and I'm paralyzed. Yikes!

I've got the plan. Who knows how much they'll listen to.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

How We Help

Last year I took the Perspectives course, a intro to missions study. It was really good overall, but the week that stuck with me the most was the discussion of dependency. It was not something I had thought of before, but it makes a lot of sense. We, as North Americans, have a very messed up view of poverty. What? You do not have a new car and three televisions? How do you survive? We also tend to throw money at problems to try to solve them.

When you take that combo of issues and mix it with good intentions it can be very detrimental to other areas of the world. We may go into an African village and see them living in huts and feel moved to build something (new housing, etc) for them. But we can not tell them what they need. Nor should we rob them of the opportunity to build their own resources. We should not tell them they are too poor to build their own resources or try to transfer North American culture and values to other areas of the world. Dependency also becomes a problem when villages see a need and reach out a hand immediately to their rich American friends.

Lesson over.

I thought of the topic this morning while I was reading the Boston Globe. There is a great article on the school Oprah built in South Africa on how South African community leaders are angry that she moved in and built what SHE wanted to build and not what the community needs. Great points and nice to see it discussed in a mainstream publication. One of the organizations mentioned in the article is the Firelight Foundation and they mentioned their guide for faith based organizations who feel called to help children in sub-Saharan Africa. How awesome is that? In The Boston Globe?? I haven't read it all yet, but it looks great.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Falling Shoes

Several months ago I read a statement by Louie Giglio that has really stuck with me. He said that as Christians we can't keep living as if "the other shoe" is going to drop. We can't assume in the good times that we have to brace ourselves for the coming bad times.

This has given me a lot to think about in terms of faith. Is bracing ourselves somehow assuming that God will just forget about us and we have to take care of ourselves? If we keep ourselves totally focused on God, will we be able to avoid pessimism?

The other day a friend made a comment to me about how the ministries I'm involved in thriving. I almost shot back that it was only a matter of time until I screwed something up. That was a lack of faith that God would continue to provide. That was hedging my bets and keeping one foot in the world, just in case things didn't work out with God.

Then tonight I got an email that really does make it seem like things were "too good to be true" and like the calm that I saw was all a fake. People were just not talking about their discontent and anger. I'm struggling to not internalize this and take it as personal criticism, but I'm not sure how I'm supposed to take it. The email's full of some nasty accusations and I don't know what to do about it. Well, I know the first thing I'm supposed to do is pray. I don't know whether to respond (first instinct) or just leave it (and risk looking like I don't care). I don't know whether to call some kind of an emergency meeting or let people think and pray about it until next week.

And it hurts. It hurts when friends who you really care about lash out with accusations. I don't know if it's a lesson in humility or a lesson in leadership. So far it seems like a lesson in "why it's easier to be a pew filler than to put yourself out there in leadership."

I hate living like the other shoe is going to drop, but I also hate being unprepared for moments like this.

Anyone with answers out there?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Allergic too....

I'm sitting at my desk miserable with my nose running like crazy. This allergic moment came on suddenly and with hayfever like intensity. So, I thought back to recent occurrences of this phenomenon:

- going through a long online ethics course for work
- listening to my boss talking about way off topic subjects for long periods of time
- lying in bed not being able to sleep

My conclusion about the trigger? Boredom. I'm allergic to being bored, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Jack Bauer

It struck me thinking about 24 that if you watch enough of it (or, say, watch a whole season in 2 weeks) you start thinking like you're in 24. This impacts ethics, risk assessment, etc. A few of these observations:

- If you're called in to work for an emergency, claim you're sick. Seriously, this is Day 6 of poor Jack dealing with this crap.
- If the armies of the world can't handle something, Jack Bauer probably can.
- The armies of the whole USA are less effective than the right tech person back at the office. Especially if her name is Chloe.
- Anything can be hacked. Anything.
- Ethics and morals are all defined by what Jack thinks. If Jack knows someone is a bad guy, he definitely is. Jack always knows the right answer. Everything serves the higher purposes of Jack.
- In case of a nuclear explosion, stare directly into the mushroom cloud and don't move.
- Friends are expendable if they get in the way of an investigation.
- No one is to be trusted.
- Chinese food sucks.
- Bring lots of clothes to work with you. It could be a very long day.
- Wear the right shoes to work - see above.
- President of the United States? Just another guy. Often corrupt or incompetent.
- Speaking in a low gravelly voice can get anything done.
- Don't get too attached to anyone.
- Always carry your PDA and cellphone.
- Anything can be downloaded to your PDA, no matter where you are. (Seriously, what kind of PDA does this man have?)

Since I missed seasons 1-4, I may have missed a few things.

Anything else you can learn from Jack Bauer?

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Disappointment with Jack

So, over Christmas my brother convinced me to try 24. I got back from Christmas sick, so it seemed as good a time as any to veg in front of the tv for many many hours getting addicted. I watched all of Season 5. I finished about a week and a half ago - just in time to start hearing the hype about the new season. I would jump out of my chair in the first 5 minutes. I wouldn't be able to breathe for 2 hours.

So, I watched the two hours last night. It was good. It was gross. It wasn't fantastic though. No cure for cancer. No world peace. He did kill a guy with his bare teeth, which reminded me of that vampire movie he did in the 80s with Julia Roberts. At one point I found myself in the kitchen while it was on. Clearly it had lost my interest and I wondered away. Too many implausibilities. Too much violence. Too much blah blah blah. Not enough Jack.

Networks - Please oh please stop exaggerating. The premiere was good, but it didn't change television forever. All you did was make me think, "well, that wasn't spectacular". 24 is a good show. Let it stand on it's own merits. Please don't turn it into ER - the most outrageously dumb teasers ever.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Happy Birthday to You

Today's my friend Laurel's birthday and I just got back from her very fun birthday lunch. With three desserts, which pretty much makes a good birthday lunch!

Happy birthday!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

End of a Long Week

What a week it has been. Lots of demanding work stuff. Lots of outside of work commitments. All good, but by last night I was exhausted. I was supposed to go to a women's retreat this morning. I woke up feeling wiped out and just went right back to bed. In the end I slept about 12 hours and while I'm up now, I don't feel motivated to do anything useful. I guess that's what weekends are made for.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

All That is "Spiritual"

On Christmas Day I played Apples to Apples with my family in the afternoon. I have to learn that game brings out the rebel in me.

So, the turn comes around to me and the word is "spiritual". Everyone says they have the perfect card and I'll be choosing there's. Cool. So, I go through all the cards. I can't remember them all, but they went Nepal, Tibet, etc. The card I chose was "Saturday morning cartoons". I thought they were going to kick me out of the family for heresy.

I thought of that tonight when I came home and there was a "one spirit" catalogue waiting for me. The subtitles were as follows:
"Renewal: The Healthy Brain Kit"
"Spirituality: Mother God/Father God"
"Peace: How to See Yourself as You Really Are/Essence of the Heart Sutra"

Why do I get this stuff? I get it all the time. Is it because I went to Perspectives? Is it because I subscribe to Christianity Today? Is it because I made a contribution to Samaritan's Purse? Because seriously, the stuff I get is not spiritual to me. If I had to choose all these catalogues or the daily trash, I still might choose the daily trash as more spiritual.

If God really is all around us, why do we uphold whatever crap people label as "spiritual" as more spiritual than our daily lives?

And how do I get on all these zany mailing lists??

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blasphemy - Of The Very Best Kind

Not shopping? Walking away from cute new shoes?

Read this article in Radiant.

The first paragraph to get you started:

Shopping is, for me, a salve. When I’m bored, I enjoy perusing windows, picking up sweaters and jeans, trying them on. If I’m down in the dumps, shopping is a pick-me-up. If I’m struggling with self-esteem, I’m convinced that a new pair of jeans that actually “fit right” will solve all of my woes.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Quote of the Day

I'm reading a really great book called "Awakening Cry" by Pete Greig (yes, it's the same guy who wrote Red Moon Rising). This book was written before the start of the 24/7 prayer movement and the subtitle pretty much explains it "Once again God is commissioning reivivalists, reformers and rebels for the ultimate cause". It goes through the history of past revivals (including many in New England, which was cool to read) and talks about what needs to be in place for revival. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone - I think you have to be in the right place to read it.

I was reading the chapter on Radical Holiness and was really challenged by the high standard that we're called to. He talked about experiences of others in this area, his own experiences and the example of Jesus. Out of that comes this fantastic quote:

Holiness, it should be noted, is rarely synonymous with respectability.
Think about that for a few minutes...... What we think of as holy is often not all that holy. Radical holiness may be a call outside what is "church acceptable".

This cuts particularly close to home after the study I did from May to November on the Sermon on the Mount. All that looks holy isn't.

What do you think about the quote? Does it push you? Make you mad? Make you nod in agreement?

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Louie News

Going in to the Passion 07 conference I knew that Louie Giglio had announced that there wouldn't be a Passion 08 conference. At first I was disappointed (I had wanted to go and volunteer next year), but then I realized if Louie was stopping this event it must be to focus on something bigger.

Sure enough, they've now announced plans for two exciting new projects. The first is regional events in 07 and 08, including a stop in Boston! Whoo hoo. The second is a global tour of Passion events. No cities announced yet. It's a pretty exciting step and fantastic to see the commitment to going global.

Now I need to get myself together to send materials to them and try to volunteer to do photography for them at one of the regional events. Motivation in January is generally low!

Edited to add - for those of you reading along at home, the Passion sessions are back up. Check them out at

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

More Crazy

With all the crazy stuff that happened in December, I figured that January would be nice and quiet working out the details. When I missed OneThing, I was sure things would be quiet.

No dice.

January has been even crazier. And in more ways. Crazy in forcing me so far out of my comfort zone I feel like I should send postcards. I'll fill you in on more of the crazy soon. Right now I REALLY need to put away my Christmas tree!

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Moving a Little Faster

Thanks to all who have been praying for my health. I got a good night's sleep last night and am feeling more myself today. Still slower than usual and in more pain, but at least I'm moving now.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Getting Slower

Well, it looks like the flu isn't really the flu and is actually fibromyalgia. This means 10+ hours of sleep a day and spending the rest of the day in a haze and hardly being able to move. Not fun. I don't normally get sick like this in January, so I'm struggling to understand the point of being unable to function when I need to do so much.

Sorry to those that went to the website and missed Beth Moore's talk (they are only up for 24 hours). Right now there are talks by John Piper and Louie Giglio up. I haven't heard either, but I'm hoping to catch them tonight.

Have I mentioned that I'm addicted to 24? Thanks Bryan. I needed more things to compell me to keep me sitting on my couch. It actually wasn't such bad timing since I've been sick and can't really move much.

Speaking of sick/fibromyalgia/and generally moving slower and feeling out of it, I might have to slow down on the updating of the blog. I'm barely functioning, let alone being interesting and don't have a lot of spare energy. Hopefully I can kick this thing quickly. In the meantime - pray!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Better or Better?

It's amazing how I can feel fine when I'm at my house and even start feeling guilty for staying home when I'm not really sick. Then, I go in to work and within an hour I'm at death's doorstep again. I feel awful and the afternoon has only started. How can I be so tired when all I do is sleep?

Luckily my catch up has included reading two week's worth of Dilbert cartoons. That part is easy. Actual catch up is going to be much harder. Especially if I don't get rid of this bug!

In other news, run, don't walk to the 268 Generation site to see Beth Moore's talk from yesterday morning at the Passion conference on Humility.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More Pictures From the Trip

These are some pictures from a quick day trip while I was up in the great white north.


Don't Miss Out

The Passion 07 conference started last night. I'm particularly interested in this year's conference because of their "Do Something Now" project that includes work with many global ministries and impacting Atlanta while they are there. Each person attending brought a towel and socks for the homeless shelters in the city because Louie said that when 15,000 followers of Christ decend on a city they city should know they are there. Cool idea.

Anyhow, for those of us not able to go to the conference, they are streaming the main sessions on their website. Just go to ENTER and then Watch Passion 07 Main Sessions Here. They are up for 24 hours each (so, the one up right now is last night's session). The sessions are about 2 hours and include the worship and the talk each night. Right now I'm an hour in and the worship has been amazing.

Speaking of missing out, I'm still sick and at home missing out on everything. Well, I guess not everything. Instead of doing work I'm watching Louie preaching, so it's not all bad!

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Monday, January 01, 2007

New Friends and Old

The other night one of my friends mentioned how many new people had come into her life in 2006. It got me thinking about the long list of new people who came into my life in 2006. It was a year of huge change for me and that was reflected in the people I was spending time with.

There are lots of old friends in my life and Christmas was a good time to get in touch with many of them. In particular, once again Keer and I got closer again when crisis hit my life and I really needed a shoulder to lean on.

There's a long list of friends that I knew last year but whom I got to know much better this year. My small group in particular was very intentional about getting closer and forming a closer community. I barely knew the people in my prayer group and now I'm quite close to them.

Then there are the friends who I didn't know at all this time last year who are now part of the circle of my life. It's amazing to me how all the right people came into my life at the right time to fill voids. It's an interesting thing to think over at the beginning of a new year.

What will 2007 bring? How many new people will be coming through my life?