Sunday, December 20, 2015


It's so typical for me to be really hopeful about my involvement in "advent." I've bought books, planned activities, copied prayers only to utterly and totally fail at any sort of daily practice. Every year the same. Christmas day comes and I'm all fuss and bother and the silent night/holy nights I was hoping for passed me by.

 I set my sights on January 1. That's the time for change anyway. I mean, really. When has Christmas ever been anything but stressful? The clock ticking into a new year is when I will transform into my ideal self with new goals and new habits.


I was looking out the window today to see if any more packages were going to be delivered (oh Amazon Prime, oh Amazon Prime, how lovely is your shipping!) and I recognized that the anticipation I was feeling was something bigger than waiting on packages. I've been waiting for a few things recently, emails, approvals, letters, and it's not a feeling I hate. When the anticipated thing arrives, there is a sense of relief, but also- let's be honest- a sort of void where the anticipation used to be. Waiting generally means that you want something you don't yet have. There is lack, but there is also hope.

The Father, who was slain before the foundations of the world, has given us this sense of something coming. He has won the victory, defeated death, and seated us in heavenly places with Christ. He could have left out the part where we walk in darkness, where we groan in agony, waiting for His arrival. But He's in that. He's found there, groaning and walking and waiting. He is always more, always mysterious, always beyond what the highest intellect and imagination can contrive. He might be the fire that stokes all of creation, but He came to the earth curled up in fluid, birthed in blood and pain into a dark, clamoring, primitive world and utterly dependent on human protection.

What kind of God is this? From the very highest to the very lowest he became. Who would have ever chosen this as a method for world domination?  There must be something that we don't get. Something in His nature that is found in the gritty parts.

So we wait. We think we will get through the hard bits to the glorious bits- and that's what we anticipate. But if we embrace the waiting that He has done, (thousands of years until an odd moment in history- to be born, to grow as slowly in His human life as we do in ours, and to die- waiting for His Father's kingdom) maybe we will see that as surely as He has saved us, He has also gifted us with anticipation-so we can wait eagerly together for His Kingdom.

Waiting doesn't separate us from Him. We are not waiting for Him, we are waiting with Him. 

"Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 2015

Hi October!
The coolness is beginning to linger through the morning and disappear in the afternoon only to return with the departure of the sun. Hooray for that. Cooler weather means, among other things of course, holiday candy season. Aw yiss.

I have been slogging away at research- sometimes a minute at a time, but it's picking up  now that I've settled into my new job at the high school, which took a little bit of doing. Regarding that, here's a conversation from tonight:

Bo: "What's the matter? Are you not feeling well?"
Me: "Eh. I'm running a low grade fever. It's ok."
Bo: "Well, that's no surprise- you're around it all day everyday... actually, it's probably mostly angst."
Me: "Pretty much."

(Note to the reader: angst is real. It is not always a reason for your parent to come get you out of school, but that does not negate the legit-ness of it. It's also contagious.)

I've been frustrated with the Woman at the Well research. I have stalled out, gotten angry, moped, found a groove- starting asking great questions, only to find out that the groove was a false lead and then gotten angry and stalled out again. I become completely overwhelmed at the stupid, crazy, insurmountable amount of information that I DON'T HAVE.

So how do I get that information? Read. Read, read, read.

Reading as much as I can- starting with the basics.

This song in my head

And October exits for yet another year.

Friday, June 26, 2015

How a Book Changed My Life: Reading John by Christopher Skinner

I’m fairly new to the whole academic approach to the study of the Bible. Let me just say that there are A LOT of words, and very few of those words are familiar. That means that reading these books is a long slow process, and as a lifelong skimmer of fiction, presents a new kind of challenge.

Bill, knowing my desire to further understand the fourth gospel, bought me a copy of Christopher Skinner’s Reading John when he saw that I was trying to win a copy from the Jesus Blog.  We have a plethora of books in our home, many of which have been faithfully opened and bookmarked for my personal study by the aforementioned husband of mine, but I have mostly felt frustrated and completely out of my depth.

Reading Skinner’s foreword was encouraging. He states that the book is about “thinking at the highest level and communicating with those who want to learn” and though it isn’t the mission statement, per se, it very well could be. This book strikes just the right tone for readers like me who would like to dive into further study, but aren’t strong swimmers. Yet.

It’s a life jacket. I have to keep kicking, but I’m not going to drown. Hallelujah.

The book systematically discusses the different aspects that are important for a better reading and context for the Gospel of John.  Chapter by chapter, Skinner gently guides the reader through the the differences between this gospel and the synoptics, the language used by the author and the scholarship surrounding the mystery of the writer himself.

His writing is clear, and the use of analogies at the beginning of a new topic is helpful. Even better, once he’s done describing the analogy, whether it’s watching the movie Toy Story, or his wife’s feelings about the end of a great fiction series, his switch into academic language is not jarring. You get the sense that the author is a good classroom teacher- one who truly wants his students to get the topic and will meet them where they are without a condescending tone.

The chapter on the language of the gospel (“An Alien Tongue”) was a personal favorite in which Skinner discusses the use of irony, double entendre and literary asides. It is read-out-loud-to-your-spouse-able, and definitely flipped a light switch on for me.

Because an interest in the Samaritan woman is how I got into this mess to begin with, I do wish the book had elaborated a bit more on her character, rather than taking the tact of predecessors and assuming her “marginalized” status, but I’m truly influenced by Cohick’s scholarship which infers that there is more to her character than just ostracized hussy. Comparing and contrasting the story of the woman at the well with the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus is the context for bringing her up, so I appreciate that he had other fish to fry.

While reading, I found myself making connections and moving along a trail of thought only to find it confirmed at the end of the chapter/paragraph. That’s damn good writing right there, and it works on two levels. One, obviously- it helps guide the reader to the conclusion the author is making and two- it makes the reader believe in their ability to think/process/learn. Now I feel smart, or at the very least, not dumb. I think I can tackle Bauckham with less frustration.

I will be keeping this book on my shelf and referencing it, not just for the valuable material it contains, but as a reminder that there is a way through the difficulties of studying the New Testament, and that there are people out there who have blazed a trail and who want others to find their way.

PS. I just finished reading Bauckham’s “The Beloved Disciple as the Ideal Author” from “The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple." It's hard to believe how different the experience of reading it AFTER finishing Skinner’s book was from before when I threw the book down in tears of frustration. It is literally like night and day.

                                                Image result for chris traeger literally meme

Four stars and two thumbs up for Reading John.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Study of the Samaritan Woman- Introduction

In 1997 in a living room outside of Atlanta, I heard a message on the Samaritan Woman.  The speaker had the traditional viewpoint of her character: that she was ostracized, that she came to the well alone because of the scorn of others, and that she was a whore. I was very moved by the message, and though I can’t remember what exactly struck me so significantly, since that night I feel a pull to TELL HER STORY every time she is brought to mind.

I always considered that I would write a fictional account, due to an apparent dearth of information, but that has changed. In the last year as I have slowly begun to dig into her story, I think it must be told as truthfully as we can determine, based on the more-than-I-ever-imagined resources that exist. Whether the writer of the fourth Gospel puts this incident in for literary quality only, or remembers her as an amalgam of several experiences are possibilities I haven’t personally ruled out yet, but at this point I am taking the tack that she was a real woman whose interaction with Jesus became history, not only because her story was written down (halleluiah) but because she was pivotal in spreading the gospel in Samaria.

I’ve become familiar with my biases. I want her to be strong, independent, respectable. I can hardly avoid looking for the angle that tells the story I want told. However, the research and the study I have done so far have proved that the possibilities are fascinating, and digging into her actual story will benefit far more than just using her story for my own agenda. Whether I will succeed remains to be seen. Right now, I’m trying to set my biases aside, and explore the biases that really matter here- those of the author of the gospel of John.  More on that soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


"I would hope that as they read scripture more that they read it with their whole self. That they don’t separate out intellectual questions from obedience questions and that they don't see the project of learning more about the Bible as different from becoming a more faithful follower of the Lord. I wouldn’t want them to lose their first love as the Ephesian church was claimed to have done right in Revelation 2. But it’s a danger, the more knowledge one has, especially the way knowledge is understood in our education system. We can kind of bifurcate action and head knowledge and that’s not how the biblical text understands a wise person. A wise person is one who acts wisely, not just thinks grand thoughts. So I think that would be a caution and I worry about myself as well, being in this field and I would hate to in any way present the idea of learning about the Bible as somehow something you master. The Bible is to master us, so our exploration in the biblical text is not so that we have a greater command of it, but rather that it has a greater command over us. And I hope then that by studying the Bible they would grow in love of the Lord and also grow in the recognition that the Lord loves them beyond measure."

Dr Lynn Cohick (her stated hope for all her students at the end of this podcast)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Ten Years.

On April 30, 2005, I posted for the first time. It is now May 4, 2015. Those children who were 3 and 5 are now 13 and 15.

I haven't looked back through the archives in a long time, and I started today and Emma and I laughed and laughed and laughed. I'm so glad I took the time to blog! I'm so grateful I wrote down the things I thought I'd never forget. 

Because I did. I forgot. I forgot what a funny  little fairy child Emma was, and how Bo used to talk and talk and talk and never stop talking. Even though so many of my posts were about how bad I felt and how tired I was and how busy we were, I still get a sense of my own happiness in re-reading them. With my 20/20 hindsight, I see that writing was a big part of that.

The best thing about this blog is that I documented a few little stories about our days.  I stopped documenting all the funny/cute/silly things my kids said as soon as I realized that they could read them. It wasn't their story I was worried about telling, the problem was that I was, in fact, telling MY story and that they might not be able to claim their stories as their own. I was telling my version of their childhood.

I pretty much talked about scrapbooking, the church and the kids. And when 2 out of 3 were gone from my life, and it wasn't fair to expose my kids to vicious schoolmates reading about their adolescent struggles, the complaining about my daily life just couldn't hold up. It's taken me some years to process why I felt so reluctant to blog about them in later years, and why the well seemed to dry up. I want to blog about my kids. I'm crazy about them and they occupy most of my time/thought/energy still. But their story is their story. So I found myself without a story to tell - at least, one that I felt was worth sharing.

The good news is that I'm finding one. The bad news is that I've done so much reading that now I can't bear to share it without doing a crap-load more reading, so it might be a minute before things pick up around here.

With this post, I'm building a little altar. I'm taking time to say I'm grateful for the writing that I've done, and I'm grateful for the writing that is to come. I'm grateful for what I've learned, how I've grown, who I've loved, and for you who walked a ways with me when our paths crossed.

Earth truly is crammed with heaven.