Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All Signs Point To....

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[HT: Brody]

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Kingdom [as I know it]

The Kingdom, as I know it, is…

The well-worn path to my favorite coffee shop. The way that I am known there by both name and drink, greeted warmly when I walk through its doors. The friends I have come to know better because of the times I spend there. The way Jefe dims the lights at 9 p.m. and puts his iPod mix over the speakers. The many Chuck Norris jokes exchanged over tea and chai and cowboy coffee. It’s the richness of the memories I have in the midst of its cozy confines and the people I love.

The Kingdom, as I know it, is…

Tripping as I come onto stage to lead worship for a set at The Burn. If I had even the slightest notion that it was about me, I think God chuckled kindly at my own clumsiness and reminded me that it was, and always will be, about Him. As it should be. It’s the way I come alive when I feel His breath and presence infused into the words I sing and the notes I play. It’s the way my heart burns at the thought of Heaven coming down and dwelling, dancing, moving, igniting, changing hearts in our midst. It’s the way the watchman on the wall is blazing with the fire to see the Divine meet the mortal. Pressing in, digging deeper, never relenting, never losing hope. It’s the way I realize, all over again, that He is closer than my skin, invading every part of me until I am completely at one with Him.

I cannot be silent anymore.

The Kingdom, as I know it, is…

Gathering around with friends that feel like family, with little grasp on what the words start and dismissed mean. Worshipping together, lingering in His presence and speaking truth with the same fire in all our eyes. Seeing the Kingdom in their lives, their art, their hearts. It’s hearing it in their words and singing along with it in their songs. It’s in a room full of broken icons that represent the very image of God, coming together as a beautiful mosaic and reflecting who He truly is in an ever-potent way.

The Kingdom, as I know it, is…

The way the candles flicker on my mantle and my bathroom counters. They remind me of the Light that came down to drive away the darkness in our world, the hope that came into our midst. Yahweh with skin. Emmanuel. It’s the artwork adorning the once empty spaces in my apartment and the meaning behind each piece. It’s the way God has proven over and over again that He is a faithful Father, providing my every need and astonishing me at His perfect timing. It’s so much more than bills paid, budgets balanced and savings in the bank. It is a perfect peace, a wholeness, in which He has taught me to dwell. He dismisses my every worry and gently, yet righteously, exposes my distractions and idols as I learn how to be part of His plan of redemption for the world each day that I live.

[To be continued via Rele-web.]

So tell me: what is the Kingdom to you?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ye Olde Relevant Podcast

My MS Paint prowess at its best...

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And again...

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This is a namless (as of yet) whale shark, so kindly introduced and inspired by the editorial crew on Relevant Magazine's weekly podcast. It's a hilarious, ongoing joke they have, and I must say, Adam Smith does a great impression of this friendly fish. I got inspired after listening to the latest podcast last night and put these illustrations together. They may not make much sense to non-listeners, but I think they may be good for kicks either way.

If you're totally lost right now, you should remedy that by becoming a listener of the greatest podcast on the face of the planet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dwelling in His Midst

I was uploading some sorely neglected Christmas photos from my camera this afternoon when I came across this one. The last night I was home for the holidays, this is what I faced:

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This is my baby. Her name is Grace (aka Gracie Mae, or Goose). I am convinced that she has special sulking powers that will pull your heart strings until you give in and do things her way. In this case, she was laying in the middle of my bedroom floor while I was trying to pack. Of course, I gave in and cuddled with her for a while, and maybe got a little teary eyed at the thought of driving away, once again, from my beloved family and the streets where I grew up. Home is where the dog is, I often say in jest, and she is 1,000 miles away in Michigan.

All this has gotten me thinking about what it means to make my dwelling place with God. All throughout the Psalms, I see the theme of making our home with God, of dwelling in His courts and His presence. Many conversations I have had the past month or so have centered around this deep aching, an acute longing, to be home. And ultimately, I know our home is in eternity. But as I sit around with friends that feel like family, worshiping God and talking about His ways and what is happening in our lives, I feel like I am somehow a step closer to that blissful place.

My friend Symon said something this week that really made me think about the significance of fellowship, community and gathering in God's name. He told the story of how his grandfather passed away last year, and how he was with his sisters and mom this past Christmas enjoying each other's company. There were moments, he said, that it seemed almost as if his grandpa was there, just because of the way one of them would articulate something or the way someone was acting. He said that his grandpa had been so close to them that they all carried part of him with them. The same thing is true of our relationship with Jesus.

You see, we are all made in God's image. We are broken icons that represent Him. So when we are all together, we see a rich and diverse reflection that is much more powerful and accurate than if we remained in solitude. And naturally, when we are all living according to ways of the Kingdom, unity will be in our midst. This is perhaps more a dream than a reality with the modern church, but I am beginning to see it take shape more and more as I am around the community I have discovered in this season of my life.

It is a beautiful story, and by no means have I arrived in terms of fully grasping what it means to be a part of God's Kingdom. But each day, each time I am with these like-minded people that want nothing more than God to dwell in our midst, I begin to see it more clearly.

Selah.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kappa Mexicana

I am part of an unofficial, not-so-secret group of girls called Kappa Lamba Pi. We all love to cook, and few members are markedly better in the kitchen than the rest (read: I'm awesome at making tea). Usually our nights together consist of a multitude of food choices, a chick flick or a few episodes of Grey's Anatomy (guilty pleasure) and a lot of giggling. One of the girls just got a Wii for Christmas, so we're kicking it up to a new level this time around. Heck yes!

Tonight, we are making enchiladas with green chile, along with some sopapillas for dessert. Recipe compliments of Mama Muncy, who cooks chile spicy enough to drain every ounce of mucus from your body:

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I share this because I am so stinking excited about it and can hardly contain myself for the next 4 hours at work. I'll get there. Eventually.

Viva las chicas de Kappa!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Longbrake

The long awaited photography of Joshua Longbrake is now for sale online! You have no idea how excited I am to see this happen for him. Josh has written for my section on relevantmagazine.com for a while now, and though I have not met him personally, it has been fun to hear pieces of his journey as he blogs and photographs life as he knows it. Here is one of my personal favorite photos (used by permission):

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You can visit his site here to purchase prints or canvases of his work. The site has everything you'll need. And while you're at it, you should check out his Flickr for more photos and his blog for your reading enjoyment.

:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mayhem Ensues...

I have won another friend over to blogger! Drumroll please...

Luci! Or more so, the Lampe family.
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So my two best friends are on my blogroll, and I find that it is a happy day indeed. Stay tuned to her blog for their adventures as new parents and also as very talented musicians. They hope to move to Nashville within the year (and perhaps I will follow), and I can only imagine Luci's musical career will continue to grow from there.

If you'd like, you can peruse her music myspace here.

Welcome to blogger, my dearest Luci!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A [poem] with [rhyme]

We speak in code
Not one could know
But we must keep our voices low

We fall and rise
And now comprise
This story told within our eyes

The ebb and flow
We come and go
Our depths to one another show

These hearts now bound
With love we’ve found
We will forever walk this ground

With hand in hand
And shifting sand
As one, we find…this is our land

[Title: Hearts as One. Author: Rachel. Written: 1-12-08]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Ivories Beckon

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(Shot on film with my Canon Rebel XT)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rhema Love

And the latest addition to my blogroll is...the lovely, the talented, the oh-so-vivacious and articulate...Rhema!

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This girl is one of the nearest, dearest people to me and a true friend. Go. Read. Be inspired. She is one of those girls that has something to say that is worth hearing.

[Much love, Miss Rhema. Welcome to the world of blogger.]

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Adieu, 2007.

Some blogger friends inspired me to do a recap entry of 2007. So let's start at the beginning...

January

I started on a bit of a melancholic tone, remembering the sudden loss of my cousin two years ago and the near loss of my mother in those same few months. It was the first holiday season without him and, though I didn't know him well, I watched as my near and dear uncle, step aunt and step cousin coped with the loss. And I looked back at the previous March and realized what a miracle it was that my mom survived a head on collision. The picture is testimony enough:


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They cut the door away, and she came out of it with a broken femur and some bumps and bruises. There is a lot more to the story, but I won't go into that now.

February-April

I paced through my last semester of college and got a little more comfortable with the unknown. I took a chance and opened my heart a little (and consequently got let down, as well). I learned a multitude of things about God and myself and who my true friends really are. I also discovered a newfound fondness for everything Mae.

May-July

I turned my tassle, packed my room and hit the road with my family for one last summer at home. I worked at my beloved camp and made some fantastic memories. It was golden, and something about watching the moon dance off the waves and the sound of the water rushing against the shoreline helped me to find myself again, in the midst of a broken heart. I came to the realization that graduating magna cum laude with a journalism degree from a good school could be both very helpful and very useless in finding a job, and that it was entirely in God's hands. I learned to trust Him even more.

I landed a job as a journalist back in Tulsa and, once again, found myself saying goodbyes and driving away with a lot on my mind. I took a road trip east, then south, then west and managed to visit family and some friends in Nashville (one day I shall return).

August-November

I started a new chapter, even though I was back in a place I'd been so much before. I went through the motions of signing my life away on behalf of becoming an adult (going through new employee training, buying a new car after some nut totaled my dearest Izzy, getting something like seven kinds of insurance, getting my own place, paying my bills, the list goes on). I did grown up things, like buying a dining room table from Wal-Mart (and living to tell about it).

I had some halting moments, and learned how to truly forgive and heal. The term "water under the bridge" took on an entirely new meaning to me. I got homesick something fierce but had time to go home and be with my beautiful family for the holidays. I played my first show as a singer/songwriter and made some incredible new friends. I have a feeling there is much more to come.

December

I had the privilege of watching my best friend and her husband welcome baby Cali into the world. We simultaneously survived the worst ice storm in Oklahoma history and lived through what W decided was a state of emergency and a major disaster. In a twisted way, it made li'l ol' Oklahomey feel important.

I drove home with three friends on little to no sleep, despite the elements, and I had 12 days off to rest and enjoy my family and friends over Christmas and the New Year.

And here we are today. Hooray! I'll buy you a frappuccino if you clicked (and read) all those links.

Accelerando!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Going Global

Sometimes it's fun to see where you guys are all coming from. Not too many regular readers, but nonetheless, a hodgepodge of visitors. Thanks for stopping in!

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So now that you're here, do you have anything to say?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fire Breathers and Balance

I am currently transcribing an interview I had with a guy who is a fast-talking, fire-breathing visionary. Just fifteen minutes of the conversation has taken me about 30+ minutes to transcribe, considering I have to stop, track back and listen to something a few times before I can catch all of what he said. Listening to him makes me wonder if I could speak with such passion...perhaps the same passion with which I write.

And herein lay my challenge: how can I describe a movement, a community, a revolution, that is driven by God and Heaven...in terms that make sense to those who may not believe in it? There isn't a way to decode the Christianese surrounding it without doing an injustice to its true meaning. It's the age-old issue of explaining the mysteries of God and the foolishness of the Cross to those who are not in relationship with Jesus.

I like to find balance in everything and work it into the stories I write about others. But this time around, it's proving to be a bit more difficult. I try to get these guys to come down to the earth and explain things, but then I realize there is nothing earthly about what's happening. It's about a collision of Heaven with earth, and the things that consequently ensue.

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I apologize if this seems pointless, but I'm mostly just taking a break from transcribing and working out my mind boggling moments during this project. And I also apologize for the ambiguity about what I'm actually working on, but I don't think it's time really that important to talk much about it anyhow.

And all apologies aside...I'm done now. :)

Merry New Year, friends/fellow bloggers/readers/lurkers/strangers.