Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The rich young ruler

I feel a bit like the rich young ruler.

Who approached Jesus, desiring to know what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. As many of us know, Christ told this man to sell everything he owned and give it all to the poor. But, he couldn't do it. And the rich young ruler departed from Jesus "disheartened, because he had many possessions."

Am I like this rich young ruler?

Have I so allowed the things of this world to define and hem me in that I place more value in their definition of me than my Father's?

Uncomfortable, but painfully necessary questions.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Musical posing

I do it.

I admit.

I'm a musical poser.

I all too often succumb to the pressure, when surrounded by those who are more musically savvy than I, to attempt and scrounge up all conceivable musical knowledge I possess and try to impress by spouting off the most obscure and possibly edgy artists I can conjure, hoping at least one is indie enough or alternative enough to evoke a head nod or non-verbal grunt of approval.


But, sadly, the danger in this game is that eventually you'll be caught. You will run out of obscure indie band references or ancient 80's bands, and the truth will slowly be revealed--that you don't really grasp all of the musical nuances being thrown around in the conversation, and your obscure band references shrink slowly into insignificance.

Eh. It could be worse.

We could try to avoid this game altogether, and admit right off the bat that we sometimes enjoy a horribly typical pop song simply because it's got a good beat and for no deeper musical reason than that.

That's not to say that the so-to-speak, musically obscure, don't possess a shred of musical knowledge or even appreciation, but we should attempt and release ourselves from this false pressure to impress or seek approval amongst the very ones who seek approval through their art.

It's ironic.

Let's be honest, it's all about approval.

Now, that's another conversation for another time...


Are we comfortable in it? It's an interesting question. I find that most people are not. I fully confess that I struggle to be.

It's an uncomfortable and seemingly never-ending process--becoming comfortable in ones own skin. It requires constant shedding: shedding of prior and previous layers and understandings of self; the awkward, the insecure, the inconsistent. And it feels like it never stops, this shedding of self. Just when we think we have arrived at ourselves, yet another layer sloughs off, revealing further uncomfortable realities and revelations.

But, we must slough off ourselves, again and again in order to reach any real sense of who we are. It's a necessary journey through the very rawest parts of self: who we thought we were, who we want to be, and who we will actually become.

It's a step into the vast void of the unknown, this shedding, realizing, and becoming comfortable in ones own self and skin. And it's a scary step. What's out there? Or more accurately, what's in here? Not questions we all like to ask ourselves.

Yet, if we refuse to ask, we subsequently refuse to become. Becoming comes through knowing and knowing comes through asking and asking comes through shedding and shedding is what ultimately brings us to a place where we can say, and perhaps even with confidence:

"I'm comfortable in my own skin."

But, in order to get there we must first be willing to do a little shedding.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Life feels like a lot of trying, and often failing. Trying for everything: every result, every conversation, every outcome, every relationship--everything. I get tired of trying. It's exhausting, and relentless. Can I be free from this weight of always striving, always trying?

I wonder.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A material girl in a material world

I am that girl, sadly.

I am a material girl in a material world.

Our ultra materialistic society bombardes us from all sides. Wherever we look, wherever we go, and wherever we don't; it's there.

It's there when you walk into a store, not previously wanting anything, but feeling like you should buy something, because it's there. Surely I need shampoo, or at least a pack of gum?

And it's there when you walk aimlessly through the mall, feeling perhaps relatively content with your material status, but are suddenly struck by an itch for a new pair of running shoes, because you can.

The unsaid, but ubiquitious message of materialism permeates the very fabric of our culture. And the silent, subversive message is this: discontentment. At it's root, this is materialism. This is the message of the culture.

It is the sickly and infectious belief that what we have is not enough, and even worse than that is the greater underlying belief that we are not enough.

And that somehow the addition of material things to our lives will enhance, make better, or somehow satisfy the unnamed longings of our hearts. But, which sadly will only serve to deepen and increase these insatiable desires.

Materialism also connotes that the material world is our greater reality; that this is it. That we must rely on what we can touch, taste, smell, or feel, to determine what we are and who we are.

But this is a fallacy. We are called to be in, but not of, this material world.

And it is encouraging to know that this is not, in fact, our greater reality. This material world is passing away. And we are called to pursue our greatest reality, which we cannot touch, taste, smell, or feel.

And even more encouraging is to realize we are indeed not defined by this material world or its material things, but by an eternal Father and our inheritance in His kingdom. As the good book says, "we hope for what is unseen, not for what is seen."

This material girl chooses to hope for what is unseen.

I must pray for new eyes.

Art II

It's all about perception. Art. As with the saying, "beauty is in the eye..."

I love the concept of art, and the actuality, depending. Again, perception. It's individual.

It's a lot of pressure, I feel. To be thought artistic. The label "artistic" carries with it definite connotation and weighty responsibility, at least in my own insecure head. Perhaps it's because I long to be considered or deemed "artistic," yet don't feel as if I am worthy of the title.

Art should be free of such pressures, but sadly the world is not free of such pressures, and art exists within the world and its incessant expectations. The very nature of art aims to fly free of this messy web and exist beyond a world confined by convention, but it struggles, and often, against itself. As we often struggle against ourselves.

Art at its core is the epitome of individual expression.

Raw. Real. Beautiful.

Perhaps I am allowing the cultural definition of art--or my own definition of art--to intimidate and disallow me from enjoying and engaging with it various mediums as they are meant to be pursued. Perhaps it's my own individuality that hinders and not the art itself...

A friend once told me, "Lauren, you get in your own way." I think she was right. Now, the question is--how do I get out of my way?

To be explored.

Art I

What is art?

Who defines it?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or the ear, depending.

This saying deems that art is subjective.

Is it?

Does not some set of beholding eyes--or ears--determine what is beautiful and what is not? What is talent and what is not? What is art and what is not?

There is a terrible irony within the world of art. As with any sect, or group, or set of people, there is exclusivity, by it's sheer nature.

I say this is ironic because the very essence of art is the ideal of individual expression. Which, would seemingly denote inclusivity-because everyone is an individual and everyone's individuality is prized and deemed beautiful. The art world is extremely receptive and open minded.

But is it?

The reality is that those who are deemed not "artistic" or not "talented" fall outside of this world and thus the very nature of art is betrayed by itself.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

This seemingly universal mantra, that everything is art to someone doesn't stick.

At least not in my opinion.

I am still in the throes of mulling over this entire concept.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I hate them. But, I live by them; they are how I function. I have an agenda for everything: for each day, each task, and for many of my interactions--even the interactions with my Father. There are pre-perscribed notions for everything in my head. Why do I do this? Is it simply my personality? Is it a vice? Should I aim to irradicate such tendencies in myself or rather learn how to live within them? Questions to be explored. Like, is it possible to approach a time with my Father with no agenda? No notion of receiving anything from Him, but rather simply learning to rest in His presence?

How I long...

Friday, March 18, 2011


What does it mean? Sabbath. Is it simply an antiquated Judeo-Christian concept that isn't relevant to modern society? Or, is it a beautiful, timeless, God-institutided discipline that we have tragically lost sight of in our hectic, non-stop, multi-tasking, overworked, society? Sadly, I think it's the latter.

Where have we gone wrong here? How have we come so far from a pattern of rhythm and rest?

We are meant for rest; God designed us that way. Yet, we fight Him like stubborn little children who won't lay down for nap time. We need a nap, badly, but we run from it like it's some sort of punishment. It's not! It's meant for our benefit. We run from what we need most: rest. Sabbath.

God designed the Sabbath with our frail humanity in mind. He created us with limitations, and then beautifully created a way in which we can function and live abundantly within those limitations. But, we must enter into that rest in order to partake in the abundant life. We must learn to stop. Be still. And know that He is God.

The Sabbath is profoundly about trust. Trusting that for one day, for one hour, for one minute, the world will survive without our undivided attention and management. Trusting that our Creator will sustain us (and the rest of the world that we think will collapse without us) for a day, an hour, a minute. But, we have to trust.

I know I need rest. I know I need Sabbath. I know I need to build this discipline into my life or I will never live the abundant life that was intended for me.

Now the question is, will I trust?

As inspired by a sermon on Sabbath rest by Ruth Haley Barton

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The universal ache...

"The heart has tremendous capacity to love, and to ache. And this ache is universal."

-Rob Bell
Sex God

Friday, March 4, 2011


We all say it, all the time. "I miss _____." : You. That feeling. That person. That circumstance. That thing. But, what do we really miss? Is it really you, or that feeling, that person, that circumstance, or that thing? Or is it something so much deeper, more basic, and more lasting. Is it the God-created yearning for more? The very essence of the eternal interwoven, invisible into all aspects of our lives...? Perhaps. I think yes. It's like there is this perpetual, continuous longing inherent within all of us. A longing for the eternal. The never-ceasing ache for what we were really meant for. And it manifests itself in the all the missings & the longings of the world. Perhaps its a good thing to miss, painful though it is. It reminds us that there is indeed something more, something better, something eternal. Something worth missing.