Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Don't worry...

Yesterday my dad left the hospital after his second blood transfusion in a couple weeks, transitioned from the care of his oncologist and went home where he and my Mom with be connecting him with hospice care.

As I look at that sentence I am flooded with emotion and wonder if there really is anything more to say.

A couple of days ago I awoke with this question.
Do I really believe in eternal life?
I eventually answered yes. In part because of the example of unwavering faith which my parents have modeled for me, for a lifetime.

I am a fixer by nature. This is so beyond my ability to fix. My head is spinning with uncertainty and decisions which may neither be right or wrong. Do I leave my life here, to go be there. When? Does my Mom need me more now or later? What does my Dad need most from me now? Can I be any good to anyone here? Why do we move away from family? If dying is so natural, why does it feel so unnatural?

I can't stand the thought of him in pain. I am comforted by the idea of him home in the arms of a loving Father. How do people do this without faith?

Throughout Dad's discovery and treatment of his cancer, which spans nearly 10 very good years he has repeatedly shared this verse, this way to live, with me...
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. - Philippians 4:6
This morning I am clinging to this passage expanded and in the message translation.
Philippians 4-5Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Fill your mind and meditate on... the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise and not to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me... this is some of what I've learned from my Father.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hello from Houston

This is my son Chris' latest update to his grandparents... he'll be home May 6th for 20 days!

Hello from Houston. I just wanted to update you on what's going on in my life.
I have finished with my classes and am currently working through my finals. I have finished two and have two left to go. I am excited that the year is coming to an end but also sad because it means I only have two left. I have really enjoyed my classes this semester and am sad to be finishing a few of them. Next year will be a very academically tricky year as junior year is a notoriously difficult year for physics majors. I am trying to finish my finals by this Thursday in time to celebrate my birthday with my friends (on Friday). They are taking me to a Houston Astros baseball game I think, but they being sparing on the details as they are trying to maintain a semblance of surprise.
I have made a good group of three friends--my roommate, his girlfriend, and her roommate--and that has made this year very enjoyable. I will tell you one interesting thing the four of us did together. In the South, there is a very popular fast food restaurant called Chick-Fil-A. I don't know if you have ever heard of it, but they are an interesting company. They aren't open on Sundays and have lots of weird promotional activities. One of them is that, whenever a Chick-Fil-A opens anywhere, there is a large party called "The First 100." The first 100 people to camp in the parking lot the day before the restaurant opens are rewarded with 52 free chicken sandwich combos. The four of us drove an hour from Houston and slept on sleeping bags on the concrete (most other people slept in tents but we were tentless). We arrived around noon the day before; the opening was 6 in the morning the next day. 100 people had shown up by around 2 in the afternoon.
While there, people bring lots of board games, guitars, frisbees, etc. It is largely college kids because responsible people can't really spend a whole day in a parking lot for some free chicken sandwich meals.
Chick-Fil-A hires a bunch of marketing people to provide entertainment, such as games for the 100 people to play (musical chairs, karaoke, etc.) and a DJ. They also feed us lunch, dinner, and breakfast. In the end, we got the 52 meals. I am planning to eat quite a lot of chicken over the summer.
Which brings me to my summer. For one thing, I am really looking forward to coming home and seeing "sweetest Oregon", as I usually refer to it while I am in Houston. I miss my parents and my sisters and Evergreens and Portland music stations and Sunset Presbyterian. But once that is over, I will be flying back to Houston and working with a group of three faculty members and three other students on a math research project. It should be a very good experience and should tell me some things about my future, but I am mostly nervous about the whole thing because I will be working on a topic that I am not really an expert in.
Actually, I don't really know it at all.
Another highlight is that Patrick, my current roommate and good friend is also staying in Houston over the summer (he is working with an economics professor) and we will be rooming with each other. After that, I may fly back to Oregon or I may drive with Patrick to Atlanta, his hometown.
Another interesting part of this semester happened only two days ago. Rice is currently undergoing massive construction (seven new
buildings: the new president is very construction-oriented). The first building finished is right in the center of campus and is a very modern-looking "student center", i.e. a coffee house type of thing. It is a pretty building--all glass walls with tons of natural lighting. The day before it opened, the building was unveiled to the donors by the president and some other high-up people. They wanted a jazz band of professionals to be hired to play schmoozing music as the donors talked to each other about how great they all were.
In a panic on the part of the band leader, I ended up being the guitar player for this band of professionals. It was a very humbling experience. 2 of the 3 had studied jazz in college and all three played all throughout Houston many nights a week. As we were waiting to play, they were all sharing their stories of whom they had played with. They were very "jazz"-type people: they ended every sentence with "man" and things like that. In the end it went ok, although it was clear that I held the band back a bit. But I am thankful for the experience which has encouraged me to practice harder.
As a final story that I think is funny: my physics professor was talking about the energy crisis because energy is a topic that comes up a lot in physics. He mentioned the term and then said, "You know, here in Houston, when people mention 'the energy crisis', they are talking about the 80's when gas was plentiful and cheap." The joke is that nearly everyone in Houston works in geophysics or oil, so the energy crisis is having too much oil.
Ok that's pretty much all that is going on with me. I would love to hear from you guys and will try calling soon.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lord, Save us From Your Followers

Last night a group of us from Sunset went to see a documentary produced by a local filmmaker, Lord, Save us From Your Followers.

After the movie our group had dessert and we shared around the table what we thought about the movie. This was interesting, to hear people process what they had seen, ask questions, share what was stirred in them, wonder about the potential for impact a movie like this could have.

I was really challenged by the content of the movie. I live in such a bubble, between family and ministry I don't get out much. I know this isn't what Jesus had in mind for the church or for me. I know his plan was for us to be in relationship with those who don't know God, showing them love, showing up. It also stoked the belief in me that we can use media to move people toward God.

I talked to the exec producer and he said that they'd screen the movie and come in for a Q & A- we're looking in to that opportunity. I'd love to make it available to Sunset.

Tyler posted a GREAT blog so I won't go in to alot of detail on the content- check it out. ;

Saturday, April 26, 2008

1 picture = 1000 words

I just spent some time on the website of Elaine Heasley, who attends Sunset and takes pics of our services from time to time.
Words don't do her art justice...

See Ira for yourself!

Among my favorite things is the weekly radio show, This American Life.
What I really love is the storytelling... but the host, Ira... well, well, see for yourself. He was on Letterman this week. He's the first 5 minutes of this clip.

He makes me smile!

On May 1, Ira Glass will appear on at least 317 movie house screens at once, projected live, several times life-size, in high-definition video, with tickets going for $20 each and merch selling fast in the lobby.

Details of the show aren’t nailed down yet, planners say it will include clips from the upcoming Showtime season, also in HD, plus Glass’s live narration of a This American Life radio story, an appearance by Chris Wilcha, the Showtime series director, and a Q&A opportunity.
I'm so excited!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A good problem to have

Kaleidoscope... this is a metaphor that's been twirling around in my head for quite a while. This weekend is a great example of a kaleidoscope moment... we are having 31 people baptized in our services.
The challenge: baptize 27 people in the Eleventh Hour in addition to congregational worship, family business, and a message.
My role on the team was to create a moment for the baptisms. Well now, this is a good problem to have... 27 baptisms but it's also lots of little pieces which we know God wants to use for His glory. No pressure. So, I prayed for inspiration, spent time in the Word and the online version of the Book of Order among other places.
We decided to use media to create a connection between the people in the seats and those being baptized. So this week I've spent quite a few hours connecting with those being baptized to pull together this moment. Along the way, I came across this amazing quote from Martin Luther
By my baptism I have testified to the world that I am Christ's . In that baptism he has marked me as his own. I shall have my rough days; the storms of life will beat upon me; temptations will assail me; and sometimes I will fall, but ever and always, I have been baptized—I am Christ's
I'm really excited, after last nights rehearsal, to see what God makes of it on Sunday. I mean that sincerely... this is what I do, gather pieces and watch God spin them into something beautiful.

Welcome to Blogger

I've been thinking about moving my blog for quite a while but tonight I finally decided to "go here" literally...
After a fair amount of nudging, my friend Matt inspired me to finally take the leap after reading his New Media Primer.

Let's face it...
Blogger has more design options and I'm a closet creative
I can post music
it's pretty here
and it's still FREE.

I have mixed feelings...
it feels like I'm cheating
I'm worried about losing readers in the transition.
As I write that, it seems really lame.
I mostly write to get my thoughts out but I also like the community that I have with people I read and who comment when they read mine.
So, just this once, will you do me a favor and allow me to do a roll call if you made it here.