Archive for August, 2009


Why do we settle for mediocrity? Mediocre jobs, mediocre relationships, mediocre dreams… we settle. We dream big, then give up somewhere along the way. We decide that it’s not going to happen, those things don’t exist, or that we can’t attain them. We quit.


I don’t want a mediocre job. I don’t want mediocre friendships. I don’t want a mediocre boyfriend — let alone a mediocre husband! I don’t want mediocre dreams than fizzle into the abyss of the “real world”. Count me out.

I want a job that I love. One that impacts people, that matters. I realized a long time ago that I’ll probably be poor, financially speaking, but that’s okay. I can eat macaroni and cheese. : ) But seriously… I want friendships that are authentic and genuine; healthy and fun. I want a husband, someday, who is a man worth living the rest of my life alongside. I want dreams that don’t die, but ones that grow, and build — dreams that spark new ideas that in turn grow and build. Perhaps my dreams will become my own, perhaps they will become the reality of someone else… either way, I want them to live.  

Most of all, I do not want mediocre religion. Who will worship a God who is mediocre? Who is kind of okay? Not me. Count me out. We would be fools to bow our heads and bend our knees before anyone less than the creator of the heavens and earth; our creator. God is magnificent. He is not mediocre. He is not tame or lame. He is fiercely passionate. He is just. He is perfect. He is loving, He is good, and He is not willing to share our allegiance with any other god.

May we cease to settle. May we strive and dream with unfizzled passion, and may we seek to bless those around us as our perfect Savior blesses us.


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There’s something special about the early hours of the morning, when the shades of the sky gradually lighten in anticipation of the dawn. Usually I am peacefully slumbering at such a time. Often I’ll wake up to the feel of sunbeams peaking in through our bedroom window… I must admit that’s my most favorite way to wake up. So much more gentle than the squaking of my cell phone alarm clock. But this morning was worth every minute of lost sleep…

sunrise at Larch mountainLast week a friend and I went to a worship night at a church here in Portland. The pastor said many true, and good things that evening, but his announcement of an upcoming men’s Bible study actually stood out more than his sermon. He is starting a read-through of Psalm 119 (a particularly lengthy psalm) with the guys… at 5:15am every morning for three weeks. He talked about how many psalmists wrote about the early hours of the morning, of spending time in prayer and worship, of cherishing that time at the break of each day. He encouraged the men to come for the month, to hone the discipline, to establish a habit, and to spend time in fellowship and in God’s Word together at the start of their day. What a cool idea! What a good reminder.

When life gets busy, as is all too easy to let happen, it seems like quiet time (especially early in the morning) is the first thing to bite the dust. May it not be so this year.

So… this morning my lovely roommate and I rolled out of our cozy beds and drove along the Columbia gorge… up through the windy roads… through forests remiscent of the Redwoods… passing by fields still coated with the softness of the morning fog. The sky above us was black when we left our apartment, and practically white by the time we reached the crest of Larch Mountain — 4,000 feet above sea level.

God is spectacular. From a small viewpoint we beheld the quiet stillness of the early morning. The sunrose over the foothills below, without a cloud in the whole sky, and the mountain peaks stood witness on all sides: Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer, Mt. Adams. *sigh* Beautiful.

after sunrise...

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So… India is BEAUTIFUL. Like the States, it is a country that does not yield well to a hasty explanation. India is big. It has mountains, plains, deserts, and tropical beaches. It is diverse. Full of people with different features, skin tones, languages, and beliefs. I experienced only a snippet… but I can share about that. : )

So… (dedicated to all of you who have asked, as you’re more than welcome to, about the everyday aspects of life in India)… food, entertainment, housing, transportation, clothing, landscape, animals, etc…


i LOVED tea time… favorite “meal” of the day, hands down. Honestly, what could be better than sitting in a beautiful, open air dining area in the middle of the Indian jungle, watching the monsoon rains pour down outside and sipping piping hot sweet chai tea with friends? *sigh* That was tea time.

 …Most of the food we ate would be recognizable here in the States. You could walk through the marketplace and buy carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, etc. A typical lunch/dinner might have: rice, dahl (a mixture of lentils and spices), water (filtered), and a vegetable dish or curry. Sometimes a CHIPATI (similiar to a whole wheat flour tortilla)… mmmm!!  Breakfast was similar: tea, sometimes bread to dip in the tea, sometimes spicy noodles, sometimes fried egg, sometimes food like lunch/dinner. But always tea!! (And hot milk for girls taking medicines.)

The food was delicious, and the chefs were friendly. A more hospitable place would be extremely difficult to find. They cooked on gas burners (no ovens) with lots of oils and spices. The food was flavorful, but not too [hot] spicy. Some of the girls would mix in skinny, little green chilis for an extra kick — those were SPICY HOT! …And most girls, women, and staff ate with their hands. It’s tricky… make a cup with your palm and push the food into your mouth with your thumb. If you thought chop sticks were tricky, here’s a new challenge for you. : )

…the custard apple… 

These are fun little fruits. About the size of a small apple, they are an adverturesome feat to eat. The actual fruit surrounds individual black seeds, so you pull out each seed and eat the fruit “off” thecustard_apple seed. …and then you (gracefully?) spit out the seeds. My favorite custard apple memory HAD to be sitting on the bus on the way to the Jubilee homes with Devon. ..How do you eat a custard apple (without paper towels/napkins) on the bus? What do you do with all the seeds that inevitably result from such a quest? …Well, you laugh, and throw seed by seed out the moving bus window… without hitting Devon (who was sitting next to me, by the window), or anyone else who happened to be walking or driving on the road next to the bus. There were a couple close calls! : )  (rest assured… the seeds are biodegradable and native to the area, just in case you were wondering…) 


Bollywood! Bollywood is a mega-movie industry; it is India’s version of Hollywood (Bombay + Hollywood = Bollywood). They are famous for bright colors, and lots of singing and dancing. They’re in Hindi, but in the States (you can rent some at movie stores here) they probably have subtitles. : )

…movie night(s) with the girls…

At Ashagram we only watched TV/movies on the weekends… we’d all gather around the television downstairs (with pillows) and watch something. Often Bollywood, but kung-fu was popular too. When commercials came on, the girls would flip to a different channel, so we’d really watch a couple different movies at the same time. When the electricity went out, which it did relatively often at certain times of the day, the fans would die, and the girls would groan. They’d head to the courtyard to hang out until it came back on (which was met with cheers of joy) or stay in the dark tickling each other and laughing. If you don’t like to be hugged, tickled, poked and such… then you would definitely not like hanging out with these girls. And I would feel sad for you, because they’re cool. : )

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Passion is a funny thing isn’t it? It’s ingrained in our society. We not only desire it, but are encouraged at every turn to seek it and claim it. We want to be beautiful, to elicit, give, and be worthy of passionate lives. Let me pause for a moment: I’m not writing about sex. True, American society has over-sexed everything… my goodness it seems that even office supplies are advertised in a seductive way these days. That’s a conversation all its own. Love can be (and should be!) passionate, but we’re passionate about other things in life too.

Some people are passionate about animals. Others are passionate about the arts, about dance, about music, about photography. Some are passionate about food, about travel, about cars or electronics. Some people are passionate about fashion, about looking good, about the environment. We are PASSIONATE about many things.

For me… I LOVE traveling. If I won the lottery (which is highly unlikely due to the fact that I don’t purchase lotto tickets..), I would buy an around-the-world plane ticket in a heart-beat! I love reading about places around the world, meeting people from around the world, looking at pictures, planning trips and the like. (Let me interject here that pure “travel” was not the reason for going to India this summer, please peruse my other entries to learn about the amazing ministries of BTC in Mumbai.) My point is simply that we enjoy spending time immersed in what we are passionate about.

So my question, and what I’ve been thinking about… is where has all the passion for God gone? We are passionate about so many things here — even celebrities, TV, and sports. But are we actually PASSIONATE about God? Where is the energy and the delight that comes from passion?!?

In the Bible, John writes to the church in Laodicea about their lack of passion. He calls them lukewarm. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” -Revelation 3:15-17.

I thought about this in India, and so much since getting back. About PASSION for God, not just a lukewarm pitiful kind of faith. Why are we so apathetic and lazy toward God at times when we are so passionate about ourselves.

The words of Timothy ring in my ears… “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power…” -2 Timothy 3:2-5.

This is my appeal for PASSION to return to our hearts, to our lives, and to our souls. The women in India at Ashagram were passionate for God. I want to be more like that.

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… giving GRACE…

did I ever mention that my photos got deleted in India? ..they did. We left India on a Saturday night. The Tuesday before (5 days) I discovered — to my GREAT dismay — that there were no longer any photos on my camera, except for ones that had been taken that day.

I remember that bus ride. We were coming back from a day at Jubilee 1 and 2, homes for young and teenage girls (a ministry of Bombay Teen Challenge). We’d spent a little time there before (this was where I taught my famous clean-but-non-lame-hip-hop class… the first dance class I’ve ever taught). I’d given a group of girls the camera to take pictures of and with friends around the building. They’d done this on a previous visit, and the result was AMAZING. Their photos were EXCELLENT — full of life and variety, posed and candid shots. They’d loved taking pictures and video of friends and scenery, and I was excited to end up with so many DELIGHTFUL photos that the girls had taken themselves. …but this time something went wrong.

I still don’t know what happened, but as I thumbed through photos of the day on that bus I felt a sinking in my stomach… more than three weeks of photos from India were gone. More than simply photos of people and scenery… they were snapshots of MEMORIES. Moments frozen in time, captured somehow on a piece of paper. I knew it would be hard in the States to try and communicate “India” to the people I know and love here… it’s so different. Without pictures, I knew it’d be even more difficult… The people, the culture, the background, the ministry, even the weather, plants, clothes, food, roads, and smells… it’s not like the States.

As I sat on the bus that afternoon, bumping along the one-lane road back to Ashagram, I started thinking about grace and about loss. Yes, I had lost something. Something that couldn’t be replaced, retrieved, or restored in the same way. It was gone. And yet… I humbly realized that these girls, these women we were in India ministering to had lost so much MORE than a couple hundred digital photos. They had lost family, friends, pieces of themselves… many have experienced suffering and loss exponentially greater than mine. And I was whining.

I know that it’s not the same… but that half-hour bus ride is one I won’t quickly forget. The sinking feeling of empty-like nausea that sets in when you realize that whatever is lost is not coming back. The stories the girls had shared starting to swirl in my brain. I knew it was an accident. And I thought about God… about how much He has forgiven (and forgotten) the things that I’ve done that have hurt Him… things that aren’t even always accidents. He has shown me GREAT grace. Surely, surely on a bus in the middle of India I could extend a little grace to these girls who had, accidentally, erased my photos. God is good.

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… i LOVE my sister! …

My sister’s pretty much the coolest person ever. : ) It’s true. It’s been true for a very long time, but I was just recently reminded of her wonderful-ness. When I was in India, she kept a journal of prayers and Scripture verses… and she just mailed it to me! Yes, a day-by-day type log of what she was thinking and praying about. When I read through it, her sweetness and dedication brought tears to my eyes…  

I wanted to share some of the verses she included here, just because they are good… I think the Bible has many things to say that are worth taking note of. It is full of words of encouragement, hope, truth, wisdom, history, and beauty. I write in hopes that this small sampling will be refreshing to you, like it was to me! : )

“When my anxious thoughts multniply within me, your consolations delight my soul.” -Psalm 94:19

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to HIm; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name. Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.”

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his lovingkindness and for His wonders to the sons of men! For He satisfied the thristy soul and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” -Psalm 107:8-9

“Because He has inclined His ear to me, therfore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.” -Psalm 116:2

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” -Matthew 1:21

“But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” -Amos 5:24

“O clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy!” -Psalm 47:1

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…power of PRAYER…

I learned, saw, and felt many things in India, but one of the things that RESOUNDED loudly was the power and presence of prayer in the lives of the women we were with, and in the lives of those who were there serving them.

Prayer is not a wimpy thing.

It’s easy, I think, to take the idea of prayer too lightly. We can talk with the God of the universe anytime… we can cry, shout, whisper, sing, rejoice, and plea in His presence. He loves us. But prayer isn’t just a perk… it isn’t just the blessing of “shootin’ the breeze” with God… our prayers are powerful.

Jesus said, “…I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14) This is not the formula for a genie at our disposal; it does not mean we can make wishes about whatever we please and expect God to fulfill them. But it does say that when we ask for things that will bring glory to God, and we do that acknowledging Jesus Christ and who He is… that God will do great things.  The book of James says, “..The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (5:16b)

Bombay Teen Challenge (BTC) is a ministry covered in prayer. It is at the very heart of the Indian man who started the organization 20 years ago. He is well aware that the demons in this world hate it when we pray and give praise to God. So, in everything, there is MUCH prayer and LOTS of praise! : )  

The girls at Ashagram spend 30 minutes each morning, before breakfast even, in group devotions. They spend time together praying, singing, and listening to one another share. At the beginning and end of classes: prayer. After dinner before free time: personal prayer time. Friday evenings have lively worship followed by fun competitions (guys and girls) in singing, drama, dance, etc. Sunday mornings have a more traditional service. Staff pray for the girls. Girls pray for one another. This is SO important because only God can heal us and restore us. We are His workmanship. It is to Him that we cry, “Abba! Father!”

In the city, Mumbai, it is no different. All that is done there by BTC is covered in prayer. Male staff build relationships with men in the city. Female staff build relationships with women in the city. It is all done with the UTMOST amount of love, dignity, and genuiness for the people they meet. The staff spends an entire day each week just in PRAYER for the people they have met (and will meet). There’s a church near the red light district. The services don’t just happen there… people pray.

And God has done mighty things! Prayers are answered. People are blessed. Miracles have happened! The ministry has grown and blossomed… the more I hear about it, the more wonderful things I have to say. If we all PRAYED here like the BTC staff do in India… it really would change the world. Just a thought… : )

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