Friday, September 24, 2010


I am going to be baptized Sunday morning.

This summer I took a mandatory class for grad school at CCU called History of the Restoration Movement. While I do not agree with everything the Restoration Movement teaches regarding baptism, the class did open my eyes to the importance of baptism and the fact that it really isn't "optional" for Christians. It is a Biblical command. So when my pastor announced that there would be a baptism service this Sunday, I felt that now, at the tender age of 31, I should make a public confession of my faith.

I have to admit I am nervous, very nervous. I feel vulnerable about the whole thing and I am not sure why. If I had my way, I would prefer for Steve and I to go to a private place (creek, river, or pond), we could pray together and he could baptize me. Some how that doesn't seem to be the historically accurate way for this type of thing to done, so Sunday morning, in front of a bunch of people I don't know very well, I am going to "take the plunge".

I am quite sure that no-one is going to see a dove or hear a voice from Heaven when my wet head comes up out of the water, but I hope that God is pleased just the same.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Power of Scent

This morning I was walking to work and along the way passed a mimosa tree growing over the neighbor’s back yard fence. Inhaling the strong heavy scent of the hot pink blossoms, it was suddenly summertime in Salisbury, North Carolina on a dusty country road, and I was six years old playing make-believe under a magical tree with beautiful fronds and delicate blooms. It was so real and the memories so vivid.

The smell of food, coffee, flowers, perfume, pines, air after it rains - connectors that tie us to our past are endless. I wonder what the Apostle Paul had experienced that inspired him to use a scent metaphor when writing, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I am a legalist, or to make the truth a little more palatable, I have a legalistic mind-set. This afternoon it hit me so clearly. Steve and I gave up refined sugar and artificial sweetener for lent. Instead of focusing on the death of Christ and the beauty of His sacrifice, all I can think about is how much I can’t wait for Easter to come so I can eat the incredible chocolate dessert my mom is making, how much I miss my diet drinks, and ashamedly I wonder how much weight I will loose by not eating junk food. But I think what is even more disturbing than my distorted views on lent is the fact that I have devised ways to “beat the system”. Instead of drinking my morning coffee with creamers and a couple packets of artificial sweetener, I have been drinking hot tea… with honey (it’s all-natural, right?). After lunch today I hit an all time low-legalistic-keeping-the-letter-of–the-law moment. I made myself an icy, creamy, sweet drink using Steve’s all nutural and healthy protein powder, peanut butter, and ice. It was awesome, it was chocolaty, it was …convicting. It’s not about the food, it’s about denial, identifying with Jesus’ sacrifice in some small tangible way. I know lent is not a “heaven or hell” issue, technically it’s not even Biblical, and is completely self-imposed. But it does make me wonder about the other areas of life that are “heaven and hell” serious. What mind games am I playing to dance around Truth to have my way and wants and still be able to check all the correct boxes?

I recently acquired a book written to the conservative holiness movement over 50 years ago by Leslie Wilcox called Beyond the Gate. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I read something very interesting this morning:

“As nearly as we are able to analyze our present condition and the trends that are apparent in the holiness movement, it seems that one of our greatest dangers is that of maintaining the doctrinal form of holiness while the power of a holy life is actually absent. To any careful observer of the times it must be apparent that there is much preaching and much professing, but, by comparison, little power. There seems to be a wide gap between what we know and what we live. It is easy to make a glib profession of two works of grace, while as far as anyone can discern, the whole life is bound up with worldly interests and material values… We wish to raise a warning voice against a trend – a trend that could eventually mean the undermining of the doctrine we love and proclaim.”

Stained Glass Masquerade
By Mark Hall & Nicole Nordeman

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small
Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong
So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them
Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade
Is there anyone who's been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who's tradedIn the altar for a stage
The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be
Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowed In

If the fact that the offices at GBS are closed today because of the weather wasn't enough to convince me that I am snowed in, two things have happened would have.

1. I just attempted to make snickerdoodle cookies using canola oil instead of butter -which I am out of. They are truly awful, even the powdered sugar I sprinkled on top as a last-ditch effort to save them didn't help. What's even worse was that I ate three of the little "hockey pucks" just because they are sitting there. I feel sick.

2. My violin came out of the closet. It hasn't been touched for years. The dogs tucked their tails and ran to the basement when I played it so I obviously am seriously out of practice. Steve is skiing with Kevin Moser and company otherwise I would not have had the nerve to play it at all.

I love the snow. It makes things seem timeless. We live in a neighborhood with large older homes and when it snows it feels like it could be 1895 or 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

OK. I am supposed to be "cleaning my house from top to bottom" right now. Instead I am eating brownie mix mixed with diet cherry 7-up and zero calorie spray butter - nuked in the microwave... it's good. I promise! Steve is gone to Perfect North to ski and I am home alone with the dogs, eating strange food and trying to summon the will power to do that which I dread (clean). So I am going to distract myself and delay by writing a quick post about something really strange (in a good way) that happened. If you haven't read my previous post you might need to for this one to make sense.

I had to go to Kroger to buy hydrogen peroxide because our chocolate lab (Dagoba) ate mouse poison. He didn't just eat the little aqua blue pellets, he licked the tray clean. Steve and I were both gone and came home to a disaster. They (chocolate lab and yellow lab) had managed to get into the trash underneath the kitchen sink. While they were having a party, Dagoba decided to experiment with other substances (the mouse poison) also under the kitchen sink. We didn't know what to do. We called Daron Jones (a vet friend in Michigan) and he gave us advice. The bottom line was that the dog had to puke up everything in his system which required the fast trip to Kroger to buy Hydrogen Peroxide to induce ... gross, I know.
At that point (when you think your beloved pet is dying), you really aren't too terribly concerned about your appearance. I was wearing this huge GBS sweat shirt, long baggy jean skirt, and clunky athletic shoes. I ran into the store like a mad woman and asked the first employee I saw where the hydrogen peroxide was and then dashed to the cash register. The girl who rang me up looked at me and said, "You live in Mt. Auburn?" I thought, Oh she recognizes GBS on my shirt and must live in the neighborhood. I told her I did. Then she smiled really big and said, "You are the one who baked my boyfriend some cookies!"

If you read my last post it ended with a decision to bake the next door neighbor(s) cookies and wish them a Merry Christmas. Well, I did it. I marched over there late one night (much to my husband's displeasure) with warm chocolate chip cookies on a Christmas plate complete with matching napkins. When I got on the front porch I could tell there was a full house and a loud discussion was going on about the types of drugs they didn't use (encouraging). I knocked on the door and someone yelled, Who is it? I said in my nicest, friendliest voice, "It's Mandy, your next door neighbor." The door opened a crack and judging by the defensive look on his face I think he thought I was going to yell at them about their music or something. I squeaked, "Hi! I'm your next door neighbor and I have not had a chance to meet you yet so I wanted to bring over some cookies and wish you a Merry Christmas." The door went wide open and sitting around the room were a bunch of guys and a few girls... and they were all smiling (very encouraging). They all said "Thanks!" I said "Merry Christmas" and went home. End of story, I thought. Now I am not sure what to do. I do want to be a good witness to them. I can't believe I ran into someone who was at the house, who works at Kroger. I know it's a small world, but is that really just a coincidence?

I have really been challenged this week during the revival at GBS - what a good revival. It is a lot to process. Recently, even before Revival, I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with God. I have come to the conclusion that the past several years I have been lost in a maze, trying to figure out what I believe and where I fit. In this time of "wrestling" with my thoughts and questions, I unintentionally have lost sight of very reason why it all matters - my relationship with Jesus. He says, "Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I am ready for that. I want to just come to Jesus, to find that rest, to take His yoke and burden. I want to be a real Christian, not just a "rule-keeper". Do you know what I mean? I have a feeling that to come to Jesus is a perfectly balanced place to be.

As for Dagoba, the mouse-poison-eating dog, he is fine. I, on the other hand, am feeling pretty sick, I guess the brownie mix concoction wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. And now, it is time to clean the house. No more excuses.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men

We have new neighbors next door - next door as in the house that is so close to ours I could open my kitchen window and sweep their faded, filthy red vinyl siding with a broom, well almost. People constantly come and go and we have not seen the person who is actually renting the house for over a month now. It's an interesting place to say the least. Mostly younger guys, typical "hood" type clothes and attitudes, girls, loud rap music, parties until 3 in the morning and two pit bulls thaFont sizet show up about as sporadically as the nice cars with out-of-state license plates. To be honest Steve and I are just waiting for the bullets to fly. These guys make the last tenant seem like a hybrid of Emily Post and Michelle Obama. (You can read about her in a previous post)

Yesterday I decided to decorate my porch for Christmas. Have you ever decorated for Christmas with hip-hop gangster rap rattling the walls of the house next to you... so loud you can clearly understand the lyrics? As if the shock of the volume wasn't enough, the words almost did me in. My personal favorite was "**** **** **** ****" mixed with a few personal pronouns and a reference to a cheating girl friend. "'Tis the season to be jolly"...not. So there I was feeling like Miss Suzie-White-Girl out hanging my garlands and red bows and white lights and wreaths while people came and went next door and the beat of the music blared on. You know, I hate to admit it, but as I wrapped my fake greenery and shiny red ribbon around everything that wasn’t moving, I wondered if there was even hope for people like that. What chance can someone who lives so morally debased possibly have? Is it even possible?

Sometime during the porch decorating episode I walked in the front door to get something I needed. From my little stereo in the kitchen that faces the dirty hovel next door came this:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

You know that feeling where a wave of emotion hits you and your breath gets caught in your throat? I was wrong. There is a chance, a very good chance for people who live like the group next door. It’s got me thinking. Will I take them a gospel tract and share the Roman road? Probably not. Will they keep coming and going and doing whatever it is they do over there. Probably. Maybe I will take them chocolate chip cookies and wish them a Merry Christmas.

"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ's compassion to the world Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now." — Teresa of Ávila

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation and House Pictures

House Front - Before

House - Before

House - Before

House in Progress
Notice the slightly yellow/tan front door? It took three different types of paint/primer and no joke, at least eight coats to get the brown stain to stop seeping through. It still is not 100% white yet, but I will succeed. I will conquer the door. It will be white!

House - In Progress

The view from the back of our house... just kidding!
Bradley Falls (Somewhere in the NC/TN mountains) If you decide to hike there you will pass about 10 signs warning you that people have died falling off of rock formations and cliffs (very comforting). You also have to cross a creekish river by climbing across bolders or going through the water... I opted for the water. Steve climbed the rocks (and soaked his shoes). It's beautiful. If I were better at posting pictures on this blog I would add more, but pictures never seem do nature justice, especially if your camera happens to be a Canon PowerShot with 4.0 mega pixels. We stopped there on our way home from South Carolina.

The Bucklands on Vacation (Hilton Head, SC)
Have I ever mentioned that I really like my in-laws? They are wonderful and I am thankful that I have in-laws that I am thankful for. It was a really, really nice time.
A side note: I was in the ocean and a dolphin came within three feet of my little float. I know people are supposed to be all excited about things like that, but to be honest it freaked me out. Knowing my luck the thing could have had rabies or some other ailment that turns typically docile, fun loving creatures into aggressive shark-like predators. It was funny though, the dolphin kept swimming by and splashing people in the water so it's safe to say that I was worried for nothing and I should have reached out and touched it just so I could say that I had touched a "wild dolphin in the ocean"... instead of admitting that I got out of there I quick as I could because I was terrified. O well...