Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

toxic concoction.

Doubt and Faith Toxic Concoction Mark Buchanan Your God is Too SafeI got cocky.

I thought I could logically justify my faith in God.

You’ll find some Christians who’ll tell you they can do it.

not me.

not anymore.

When someone told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable, I bristled. Or should I say, my ego bristled? I challenged them to prove it.

They couldn’t. (Their emotionally charged reasoning was circular and redundant and they completely ignored me when I poked questions into the holes in their arguments.)

But in the aftermath of those discussions, I discovered I couldn’t disprove it either.

Science and logic have limits. There are some things that can’t be understood or explained (and a definition isn’t an explanation).

Like what causes gravity.
Like human consciousness.
Like quantum entanglement (what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”).

Like God.

Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just means we don’t understand why. Or how.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that God cannot be completely understood. I forgot that a God I can understand is a God I create. Confine. Any God I can completely understand is limited by time and space and the extent to which I can understand.

Any God who is limited by my understanding is not transcendent.

I was reminded – the hard way – that I don’t want a God I can understand.

It was a season of extreme paradox in my life.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more aware of my weakness apart from Christ.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more intimately and desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

I prayed daily for wisdom and discernment and empathy and compassion. I prayed daily for Him to continuously make me aware of opportunities to be the hands and feet and voice and ears of Christ. Watching and listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit had never been more in the forefront of my awareness. I prayed not only for the Holy Spirit to prompt me when to speak and act, but when to be silent and still.

I prayed for Him to equip me in what I honestly knew to be beyond my capabilities.

and then.

The person who told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable asked me a simple question:

If God is sovereign, why pray?

You’d think I would have considered that question before, me being all spiritually “mature” and everything.

Turns out, I had never really thunk it through. I had dismissed it, thoughtlessly citing Biblical platitudes like “I pray because Jesus prayed.” and “I pray because the Bible tells us to pray.”

When I finally looked at the question straight on, my entire relationship with God came to a screeching halt.

I couldn’t pray.

I wanted to turn back the clock. To unthink what I was thinking. I wanted the faith of a child.

I wanted stronger faith.

Suddenly and overwhelmingly, I identified with Philip Yancey when he wrote:

“I envy, truly I envy, those people who pray in simple faith without fretting about how prayer works and how God governs this planet. For some reason I cannot avoid pondering these imponderables.”

What was so different about this question this time? It came at a critical juncture in my life. After arguing with God for months, I had finally taken the terrifying step of obedience by sharing something I believe God was revealing to me. Something I tried to ignore. Something I didn’t want to see: That I was part of a church which marginalized grace, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, prayer and relationship with Christ. That we forgot 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 and were ignoring Matthew 28:19.

I was genuinely repentant and prayed desperately for God to bring revival. Heartbroken, I asked for people to pray with me. I was blindsided by how angry people were, how fast and how much they misunderstood what I said and how vehemently they rejected not only what I was saying, but me.

I had argued with God, finally doing what I believed He was prompting me to do and I was faced with closed hearts, closed minds and slammed doors.

So I did what anyone “mature” in their faith would do. I ran into a cave and hid.

A dark cave.

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:4-9

Go ahead, sing-song it with me.

“Julie and Elijah, sitting under a tree, w. h. i. n. ing.”

I prayed.

and then I couldn’t.

Because God is sovereign and God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.

And then I prayed because I couldn’t help it.

Because a life void of intimacy with Christ and utter dependance on the Holy Spirit was vastly empty. and hopelessly dark.

Desolate.

I prayed because I couldn’t help it while at the same time believing that praying to a sovereign God who’s working a plan and doesn’t need my help was…pointless.

Not logical. Not pragmatic.

And that’s where faith is required.

And where doubt came in.

I never doubted the existence of God. I never doubted Christ or the Cross or the redeeming power of His blood. I never doubted my salvation.

I doubted the point of me.

If God is sovereign, why pray?

If God doesn’t need me, why would He even bother with me? Why did He even bother with me?

And that’s why I say I can’t logically justify my faith.

In my darkest night, when God was completely silent, when the logical, rational and reasonable foundation for my faith was beyond my sight,

I still had faith.

I still have faith.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | apologetics, books, Christ-Centered Church, christian living, pinterest, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

four minutes with God: break my heart for what breaks Yours.

a Quote:

(Ellen and Genie were best friends when they were kids, but grew apart over the years. Until this reconnection in their early twenties, as written by Genie.)

“For the next hour I stormed the conversation with highly exaggerated accounts of my great successes…

She [Ellen] listened quietly and at one point when my voice was way up and bragging she broke in: “That’s all very interesting. I know you’ve done some fine work, but you’re probably the unhappiest looking person I’ve ever seen, Genie. What’s really the matter?

walking wounded compassionIf you have ever heard your own defense shatter, remember that sickening silence that follows the crash right now and share it with me as I sat there with an unlighted cigarette in my hand afraid to look down at the wreckage around my feet.

She was not unkind.
In fact, her expression and her voice were so kind I quickly lighted the cigarette and faked a cough while I batted away the tears that were there brimming.

After that I told her things which I had not dared admit to myself. We were very close and yet we were shouting at each other from the opposite shores of the universe…

Ellen talked about what was at the center of her life…

“All right, what is at the center of your life?”

She said, “It isn’t a ‘what.’ There’s a Person there.

“A person?”

“Jesus Christ.”

What did I reply?

“Please!”

That’s what I said and laughed but I didn’t feel at all like laughing. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do and certainly I didn’t know what else to say.”

from The Burden Is Light by Eugenia Price

my Prayer:
Jesus, ever since I asked You to break my heart for what breaks Yours, I haven’t been the same. This lesson of compassion is not what I expected. I don’t know what I expected. Heartbreak hurts. And so does the knowledge that so many people vehemently hate or casually dismiss the Healer because of all the religious baggage that’s been heaped on top of You.

Lord, despite the heartbreak, please don’t ever let me become desensitized.

Please continue to bless me with this broken heart. Thank you for teaching me, even if empathy wasn’t the learning curve I wanted. Please continue to help me see people and to minister to them. Please help me to recognize the people who are seeking You and please equip me to extend that ministry beyond their temporal needs. Please bless me with the courage to ask the hard, uncomfortable, heartbreaking questions. Please, please tell me when to speak and what to say, when to be silent and what to pray.

the Word:
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV)

the lyric.
“Heal my heart and make it clean. Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause, as I walk from earth into eternity.”

March 18, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, pragmatic communion, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the living room makeover. the library.

If you missed Part I and Part II of this living room makeover, CLICK HERE and HERE to see those photos.

This weekend, we’re installing baseboard in the game room, and hopefully we’ll reload all the furniture in that room and finish laying the new flooring in the kitchen. But this is what we did LAST night!

DSC_0122

Check out my very own LIBRARY wall!

and yes, those shelves block off an opening between two rooms, but we LIKE it that way. The other side is what the floor plan called the formal dining room, but we’ve used it as a play room/game room for over 10 years. The books on these shelves will provide a sound barrier between the two rooms that I’ve wanted for a very long time!

There’s plenty of time to have a formal dining room. After my kids grow up. maybe. (more likely it will turn into a workout room.)

We have SO much to do this weekend. But FirstHusband is using power tools and doing math with a protractor to calculate baseboard angles, so I’m rearranging books in my new library! Here’s a WIP shot:

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Check back. More photos to come.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | books, clean house, freakishly organized, home sweet home, poor me some whine | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 01/18/14 – 01/24/14

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I have a harmony stuck in my head.

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PinkGirl. Please STOP doing the Chocolate Dance and get ready for bed.
#ilovemydaughter

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
PinkGirl. Please STOP doing the Chocolate Dance and get ready for school.
#ilovemydaughter

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A huge THANK YOU to Kristen from BodyInUnity Inc.! After more than 6 months off, I went to my 3rd Christian yoga class yesterday at a new location for me – Willow Creek PCA in Winter Springs (FL). Locals, if you’re looking for a Christian yoga class, I can personally recommend Kristen! Check out her class locations and times through the Body In Unity website, HERE. (scroll down to see the schedule) NO FEES! Donations only!

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It would appear that Bob the Cat and I are playing the “Cat Wants In-Cat Wants Out” game today.
I’m reminded of the Sad Cat Diary:
“I put in a simple request regarding the door to the garden. But seemingly out of sheer spite, the authorities refuse to hold the door open long enough for me to decide whether to go outside. or inside. or outside. or inside.”

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Logged into my bank yesterday. My credit card had a zero balance. And I had a brand new credit card. with a brand new number. A card we didn’t apply for. showing that missing balance.
Thank you Target.
and NO thank you. I do NOT want a Red Card.
I don’t need a new bank account number too.

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The 2014 Living Room Makeover is stalled. Technically it’s because I haven’t ordered the rest of the flooring yet. Or painted the room. Or picked a paint color. Until today. Paralyzed by tones of wheat, I finally settled on one. Not because I loved the color, but because the name of it is “Pecan Sandie.”

Yes. My decorating choices are guided by cookies. That being said, when asked about the decorating delay, I shall steadfastly deny procrastination, indecision and cookies and blame it all on the busyness surrounding the production of PinkGirl’s latest play. She’s Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Last weekend and this weekend.
Do they make a paint additive that smells like cookies?
(click below to see the before photos and the progress so far)

new flooring sample

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Thursday, January 23, 2014
The garbage cans I ordered came yesterday. Opened the 1st box, not the 2nd.
PinkGirl: “Mom, what was that crashing noise this morning, right before Bob started crying?”
It really does look like the top of the 1st box could support the weight of a cat, doesn’t it?

boo and bob on cardboard boxes

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My dentist is going to tell me I need a crown for a cracked tooth.
She’s also going to tell me I need a night guard because I clench my teeth while sleeping, which resulted in a cracked tooth.
Which has been cracked for years.
Which is why I’ve said no to the crown for years.
Today I find out if the crack has grown. I really do NOT want a crown. I already have one and it was a significantly less than optimal experience. (By the time I needed my next cleaning, I had a new dentist.)
I’d rather paint the living room than go to the dentist.
okay. I’m done whining.
for a while.

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If I actually intended to use this flap on our new garbage can, this crooked sticker with bubbles in it would make me grumble every time I threw something away.
#ocd

crooked recycle sticker

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“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Friday, January 24, 2014
Spent a couple of hours at BrightLight Books yesterday.
And a couple of hours reading.
#incurablebibliophile

book binge

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Need. Bookcases.
#incurablebibliophile

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The clothing and makeup is dated, but the message is timeless.
Jump to the 16 minute mark to get to the guts of this:
(or check out the book version “Dinner with a Perfect Stranger” It’s short. 178 pages.)

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That yoga class I took last night?
Feeling it right now. I am seriously out of shape.
Even the bottom of my feet hurt.

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Little known facts about 19th-century protestant non-state missionaries: “Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.” Read the full article HERE.

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, exercise, family, fight the frump, fragments, freakishly organized, goodsteward/body, health, home sweet home, intentional living, laugh!, microactions, motivation, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, status updates, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

facebook fragments: 01/10/14 – 01/17/14 (listened to a lot of music this week)

For those of you who don’t follow me on facebook…

Friday, 01/10/14
“that’s precious.” #stuffIdontsay

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Sunday, 01/12/14
My son just used the word “solace” in everyday conversation.
And he didn’t remember using it when I asked if I could post this.
I’m so proud.

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The 2014 Living Room makeover: before and during
(click to photo below to see all the “before” shots)

new flooring sample
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Monday, 01/13/14
Parking FavoriteSon’s new car second in the driveway without overlaping the sidewalk.
I’m getting good at this.

driveway parking

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Tuesday, 01/14/14

God Catchers When you are hungry for Him God doesnt say calm down

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This song was posted by a family who just lost their 3 month old son.
A testimony of faith in devastating heartbreak.

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PinkGirl is FREAKING out over this. We have tix to see – and MEET – them in March. #ilovemydaughter

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Wednesday, 01/15/14
Louder.

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Book Sniffing. How Nerds Get High. #bibliophile

book sniffing

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Thursday, 01/16/14
that time when you see someone do something nice to help someone else. after making it very clear just how put out they are in the doing of it. #itaintgracewhenyougiveitthatway

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“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”

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Praying for saturating comfort and intense peace for some friends who are hurting today.
(click the photo to view the source post)

http://pragmaticcompendium.com/?s=princess+tapestry

disney princess tapestry back

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These photos are another reminder for me. Sometimes you can’t see someone’s pain. Doesn’t mean it’s not there. #reachout #seepeople (click the photo below to see the rest of the photos and the story behind the last one)

JohnSchneider

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A huge THANK YOU to Kristen with BodyInUnity Inc.! Tonight was my 2nd yoga class after more than 6 months away. And THANK YOU to OASIS Spa & Wellness for hosting the Thursday 6pm session! Such a peaceful and edifying environment! If you’re local and interested in Christian yoga classes, check out the Body in Unity facebook page for more info. And be sure to check out the services at Oasis! Beautiful, professional, peaceful and a great value! #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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Friday, January 17, 2014
Putting a credit card to good use on a Florida winter morning.

frost on the windshield

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Thinking about songs that have been challenging for me to learn. If we only sang “singable” songs during worship, I never would have gotten to lead this one.

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mmmm, drums for the King. “We lift our banner high, we lift the name of Jesus” New Elevation Worship song.

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If you see me singing in my van over the next few days, this is what I’m listening to:

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FavoritetHusband put up 5 birdhouses on Sunday. Took these two 5 days to find theirs.

birdhouses

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Finally found FavoiteSon a PS4 (delayed Xmas present) but had to buy it in a bundle. Listed the headset & 1 of the unwanted games on Ebay last night. One sold before I went to bed, the other before I woke up. LOVE it when my auctions turn over like that!

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Anyone want to weigh in on the current inhouse mother/daughter disagreement?
peanut butter. creamy or crunchy?

crunch or creamy peanut butter

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I’ve let Bob the cat in. and out. and in. and out. no less than 10 times so far today.
His sister, Boo? zero. The girl knows how to make a decision.

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2nd yoga class last night after more than 6 months off. I think I feel every. single. muscle. in my body right now. #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE

January 28, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, clean house, crazymakers, exercise, fight the frump, fragments, goodsteward/body, home sweet home, laugh!, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, praise team music, status updates, suffering, vehicles, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the living room makeover. before and during.

[First things first. FirstHusband's name has been officially changed to "FAVORITEHusband" for the next few weeks. probably longer. This post would not exist if it weren't for his tireless and good natured hard work. and his math skills and his freakishly (and sometimes frustrating) attention to detail.]

I forgot to take a picture of the before, so this mid deconstruct will have to do. I’ll look for an old shot to compare with the “after” when we’re finished.

living room makeover before

living room makeover before2

If you know me, you know there were full bookcases in this room.
Below are mid-relocation stacks for one of them.
(alphabetized by author’s last name of course)
mid bookcase relocation

This antique armoire already weighs a ton when it’s empty.
So.
It had to be emptied.
the giant armoire that has to be moved

I ran out of flat surfaces. And some of it went into a charity box instead of back in the armoire.
I do not need a giant platter with a turkey on it when I have two plain giant platters.
and I do not need four glass beer steins with my graduate school logo on them.
and I do not need…so much STUFF.

armoire contents mid relocation

This picture doesn’t show the family room furniture,
but we don’t normally have a love seat in front of the fireplace.
or a piano in front of the sliding doors.
There’ll be plenty of seating in the family room for the next few weeks.
Although, no room to walk. (notice the glass wear lining the piano).
temporary familyroom living room combo

Of course, what is a home renovation without a time-sucking distraction?
We took the sliding doors off the track so the dining table could fit through to live on the porch for a few weeks.
ewwwww.
and this picture was mid-scrub. It was BLACK before. guuh. ross.
(why and how did I never notice this before?)
the distraction - sliding door rails before

After some steel brush, Mr. Clean grease cutting, shop vacuuming, this door opens and closes like buttah.
the distraction -sliding door rails after

And back to the real job.
Scraping and sanding and sealing, oh my.
the living room makeover - carpet is up.2

the living room makeover - floor sanded and sealed

We needed a subfloor to raise the floor level to the same height as the current flooring.
the living room makeover - subfloor in progress

the living room makeover - subfloor complete

And a moisture barrier.
Finally found a use for all that roofing material left over from Hurricane Charley.
the living room makeover - moisture barrier2

And then, FINALLY, we put together a sample of the flooring we picked to see if we really like it.

we do.

new flooring sample

So now, we order the rest of it.
and wait for it to ship.
and then finish laying it in the living room.
and then we get to empty the game room.
and do this all over again. yay.

game room charging station

game room seating

January 12, 2014 Posted by | 2014 home makeover, books, clean house, home sweet home, poor me some whine | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

will work for kindle gift cards.

will work for kindle gift cards

November 26, 2013 Posted by | books | , , , , | Leave a comment

therefore I quote: “violently face to face”

CS Lewis Quote Reading Violently face to face Letters to Malcolm

“C.S. Lewis (on reading another author):

“He brought me violently face to face with…”

from Yours, Jack by C.S. Lewis

YES!

I LOVE it when that happens! It’s why I read dead guys and footnotes when I don’t have to. I love it when a writer makes me think. I love it when my beliefs are challenged, when my complacency is given a swift kick in the pants, when my arrogant assumptions are blindsided by something I never considered before.

Why do I love it when a writer brings me “violently face to face” with a new perspective I hadn’t considered or a truth I hadn’t realized?

Long story short? Complicated and detailed reasoning summarized? I have an extreme aversion to uninformed myopic opinions being spouted as declarations of objective truth.

I like to learn. To think. And I learn a LOT from books. I like to plow into what other people have written. Reading and learning fuel me and fuel the conversations I have, the words I write and the decisions I make.

You don’t have to be a reader to be informed. In the age of Google and Wikipedia, you can find out whether what you believe is hooey in a matter of seconds.

I’m allergic to hooey. The last thing I want to do is spread it around.

November 15, 2013 Posted by | books, intentional living, learning curve, therefore I quote, what I've learned | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

family book banter

PinkGirl: “Mom, did you pre-order that book for me?”

Me: “no. is there some incentive for PRE-ordering?

PinkGirl: “no, I’m just DYING to find out what happened.”

Me: “I have no sympathy. You have broken the family fiction series rule.”

PinkGirl: “What rule? (as if she didn’t know)

FavoriteDad: “You don’t start reading a fiction series until they’ve all been written.”

PinkGirl: “aahhharrrrgggg”

caps lock equals shoutingI checked my laptop later. In MS Word, I see:

“I DON’T CARE!!!!!!!!
GET ME THE BOOK!!!”

Me, to FavoriteDad: “Are you going to let her talk to me in all caps like that?”

August 28, 2013 Posted by | books, family, laugh!, pinterest, pragmatic commotion | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

the donkey is busy.

It’s taken me months to nail down the problem. WHY did I shut down after publishing my “Christ-centered church” series?

writers block keyboardI couldn’t even think about public speaking.
In most interpersonal conversations, I didn’t go near a discussion about faith.
I couldn’t write a word in “my” book.
I couldn’t even open the document.

Anything I had to say was pointless. recycled and contrived. self-important rambling. vomit from my fingertips.

my confidence wasn’t the only thing that was shot. my credibility was in a crumpled heap:

Who did I think I was? If God has a message, He does NOT want me to share it. As a matter of fact, if He wants anybody to actually hear a message, He really needs to find someone else to share it. seriously. look at the history. I suck at this.

Not only did the message of the Christ-centered church series get vehemently rejected, it was so vehemently rejected, people rejected stuff I didn’t even SAY. Those posts shut down conversation and built unscalable walls of defensiveness that are still impenetrable today.

Vehement rejection aside, there seem to be just as many people who didn’t understand what I was trying to say in the first place. Not even a little. Then there are the people who are convinced they understand, but when they comment or talk to me, it’s clear. Not even close. I hadn’t succinctly explained what I was talking about. I sometimes wondered if I would have been better understood if I had written those posts in pig-Latin.

Am I dismissing the relatively few people who did understand? who identified with what I said? who responded positively?

of course I am. It’s what we humans do. In an employee review, we will dismiss the 9 “excellents” and obsess over the one “needs improvement.” Because the next review? We want that “needs improvement” to be improved. significantly.

For months after that series, I was convinced I couldn’t put words together in comprehensible sentences. I couldn’t write. I stopped the “conversations with a born-again athiest” series. If what I said about my faith caused CHRISTIANS such confusion and anger, I had NO business talking to an atheist. seriously.

I was paralyzed by a complete and total lack of confidence in my ability to discern ANYthing. God’s will, God’s prompting, God’s movement. Wisdom?

fuggetaboutit.

It was months of paralyzing doubt…no – paralyzing conviction – that I had nothing of value to contribute to…anyone – and even if I did – I was incapable of articulating it with any clarity at all.

I threw myself into physical labor. I can’t screw that up, right?

I began asking God for a mentor. To send someone wise and blessed with discernment. Then, just two weeks ago, I had coffee with a new friend. A deep thinker. We read the same authors. She took the time to listen and dig. She’s a question asker. It was a short four hours. I put my finger on it:

encoding.

and I already KNEW it. I mentioned it in the middle of the Christ-centered church series, in a post entitled ““Christ-centered Church.” I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“Encoding is, to simplify it, the words and pictures I use to convey my message…it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY TO MODIFY MY ENCODING in an effort to clarify my message and minimize any misinterpretation”

encoding and decoding

I went back and read the Christ-centered church series again. and again. and again.

Was WHAT I said inaccurate? no. and I do NOT answer that question lightly. More than 6 months later and I’ve got even more and detailed reasons for believing it’s true. Hard. heart wrenchingly hard. but true.

So. Was HOW I shared the message ineffective? I shared personally and chronologically. I stepped through what I believe God was revealing to me in the order He revealed it. I explained how He revealed it. I read the series again. I went over and over it. I read my prayer journal entries from that time. I couldn’t see any other way to do it. Should I have left myself completely out of it? Excluded my thoughts and feelings? Should I have just stated facts and stuck exclusively with movie clips and metaphors, like dominoes? Was all that personal stuff just a self-indulgent, cathartic purge? If I had just stated the premise of the message up front, would it have had more clarity? Or, as I suspect, would the message have been rejected even faster? Having already decided I was wrong, no one would have come back to read any more; there would have been absolutely NO reason to hear me out.

And here’s the gist of it: If I did such a phenomenally poor job encoding a blog series, how in the world could I possibly encode a book?

I was a communication major. I should be able to structure and articulate a message. Supposedly, I’m an educator. What I came face to face with – what paralyzed me – was that it doesn’t matter a flyin flip WHAT I have to say if I’m incapable of saying it in a way it can be understood.

And then God reminded me of Balaam’s ass.

sometimes God sounds like an ass - Balaams donkey

“Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth…”

I don’t believe in coincidences. God led me to this book, and this passage:

“As the final song was sung before I was to be introduced, I leaned to Boneface and out of fear and desperation [I] blurted, “I don’t know why I am here. I don’t know why God would send me here to speak to these people, Why me?” Without hesitation, and with a big grin, Boneface turned to me and said, “You are here because the donkey was busy tonight.”
He was making a not-so-veiled reference to the prophet Balaam’s talking donkey in the Old Testament.
I got the message. God uses anything or anyone He chooses.”
Elijah, Steps to a Life of Power by Bob Saffrin

If God can speak through an ass, He can speak through me.

and it has not escaped my attention that Balaam beat the crap out of that donkey THREE times before he understood what the donkey was trying to tell him.

I just need to keep reminding myself of one thing:

“…Balaam replied. ‘But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.'”

August 22, 2013 Posted by | books, Christ-Centered Church, christian living, conversations with an atheist, learning curve, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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