Thursday, April 29, 2010

new to me hymnody

I didn't grow up singing a lot of hymns, but over the last few years they have become a integral part of how I worship God. As much as I love the old classics (Be Thou My Vision, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, How Great Thou Art, etc), some of my very favorites have been written in the last decade.

Here are three albums of hymns that I've been listening to and loving this month. Some are new, some are old, some are old words with new music -- all are good!

In Feast or Fallow
Sandra McCracken

Help My Unbelief
Red Mountain Music

Hymns II

Download Hymns I by Page CXVI for FREE this week only! If you're in the Seattle area and don't have big plans for Pentecost already (5/30), come to John Knox Presbyterian Church at 9 AM, 10:45 AM or 7 PM for Pentecost worship services led by Page CXVI.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

playing worship hooky

This past weekend I went on a women's retreat with a few friends from my church and a few hundred strangers. I had a great weekend connecting with people, enjoying beautiful scenery, spending good alone time with God, and having other people cook for me. It was lovely.

However... the actual program the retreat offered left me cold. (Literally. As in, I stood outside without a jacket in 45 degree weather for at least an hour because I found it preferable to what was going on in the auditorium at the time.) Here's the question I wrestled with over the weekend and continue to wrestle with now: If we are to worship God at all times, in all we do, and with all we are... how do we deal with forms, styles, and contents of corporate worship gatherings that clash with either our theological leanings or our aesthetic sensibilities or, in the case of last weekend, both?

I felt (and still feel) uncomfortable and defensive about my decision to skip out on parts of the program. On the one hand, I don't like admitting that I felt unable to worship God in spirit and truth in the midst of the offered program. On the other hand, I do believe strongly that how we worship matters, and therefore I couldn't force myself to engage in something that doesn't line up with my understanding of how God has called us to worship Him.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. What do you do when you find yourself in a corporate worship experience that makes you want to run for the hills??

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

iphone photo fun

I am pretty sure my phone still works as a device by which I can communicate audibly with another person... but its other functions (like the camera) are much more valuable to me most of the time. I love being able to capture the goofy stuff that happens in our daily lives without saying "Stay just like that, Mommy has to go grab the camera!" Sure, they're not the greatest pictures ever taken, but they will help me remember what 'a day in the life' was like at this stage of motherhood. I mean, I won't always walk by the bathroom and see a scene like this:

...or pirate face contests at the breakfast table

...or epic swing and stroller experiences

...or strawberry shortcake whipped cream beards.

Friday, April 16, 2010

market day in pictures

on the train.

pike place salmon face.

ferry watching.

milk mustache contest.

ridin' the pig. (sorry i cut off your face, pig.)

headed home.

sleepy train.

big fun, small haul.

[Photos courtesy of the Hipstamatic app for iPhone]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

they said it

(No connection to this post, just a classic Dexter face.)

I'm reading "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?" to the boys before bed. I get to the peacock page...

Dexter: Mommy, what's a peacock?

Me: (pointing to the picture) It's this big bird with all the pretty-colored feathers.

: How does THAT happen??

Pretty fair question I guess.


The kids and I are at a new friend's house. She has cooked us a beautiful traditional Ethiopian meal and we are all eating.

Me: (to the hostess) Oh wow, my husband is going to be so jealous that we are eating all this delicious food!

: I ate a lot of jealous when I was sick Mommy!

Jello, buddy. That was jello.


After asking me several pressing theological questions, Nate thought for a minute and summarized my responses like this:

"So, God is God... and Jesus. And Jesus is Jesus... and God. There are two names but they are connected?"

I think he gets it better than I do.


Nate's prayer from a few nights ago:

"Thank you God for my brother. Thank you that I have clean water. Thank you that I have a mommy and a daddy. Amen."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

new art

Windmill, After Van Gogh by Chris Stiles

This week I am working on installing a new art exhibit at church. It is a 38-piece collection of work by an artist in our congregation, Chris Stiles. Chris uses ballpoint pen, permanent marker, and pencil on paper, grocery bags, post-it notes, blank pages of books and whatever other clean spaces he can get his hands on. My favorite things about Chris' work are his use of color and his perspective. He tends toward bright and vibrant colors that highlight the beauty of the natural world -- to me, his work seems to capture those fleeting moments in nature when we see God's glory fully unveiled in his creation. His vision and perspective are also intriguing to me, as he often portrays objects with outlined shapes and contours that strike me as surprising and sometimes unusual.

Chris was diagnosed with autism over 35 years ago. He has limited communication and social awareness. Chris began drawing as a child after attending a special program for children with developmental delays. His first drawing was of scenes along the way to a camp for special needs chilren at Mt. Hood; to this day he often draws a small, stylized picture of Mt. Hood in the corner of his drawings, marking its significance in his life. It is not uncommon for Chris to labor over a drawing and then continue to mark on the paper until it is completely covered with black ink, or to finish it and immediately ball it up and throw it into the fire.

I happen to think that Chris' art stands on its own, apart from its distinction as being made by a man with autism. However autism is a fundamental part of Chris' story and it does make an impact, not only on what Chris creates, but also on how his creations are received. I love the fact that his work is absolutely, positively, categorically devoid of pretense and ego. He is not trying to be a particular kind of artist or make a particular kind of art for a particular purpose. He is just being who God made him to be. The result is a body of work that is a particular kind of art and can serve a particular purpose, but not because he means for it to do so. Rather because the God who made Chris enabled him to create beautiful art that glorifies Himself and His good creation.

Check out Chris' website here, and come see his art on display at John Knox Presbyterian Church, April 11-May 30.

Matterhorn, by Chris Stiles

Friday, April 2, 2010

they said it

Dexter, watching Ice Age and marveling at Sid the Sloth: "He walks in the snow... without any boots!"


We had been talking about our adoption at the dinner table. After a pause in the conversation, Nate asked, "When our new brother or sister comes home, will they turn into a Ballast boy or girl?"


Nate and his buddy Sam were playing in our living room, sorting through all their Easter candy loot from the egg hunt at preschool. After lots of exclamations about different kinds of candy, Nate turns to Sam and says, "Sam, did you know that Easter is not just about candy? Yeah. Easter is really about Jesus." Preach it, kiddo!

Opening an Easter package from Mimi & Grandpa


Last night on Maundy Thursday our church service included an opportunity for foot-washing. Jon, Nate, and I got to wash each other's feet (Dexter was in the nursery). Nate thought it was the most exciting thing he'd ever done and couldn't stop grinning the whole time. Looking at his smiling face as I poured the water over his feet, I knew God was telling me: Love and serve your child, and you will be a delight to him. It was a special time for our family. When I was tucking the kids in that night, Dexter asked "Mommy, did you wash the feet?" When I told him we had, he gave me a big frown and whined, "But Mommy! I want you to wash MY feet!!" I just thought it was so funny that both kids were so into it without really knowing the significance... Maybe we'll make it a family tradition on Maundy Thursday so they can learn more about what it means as they get older.

We didn't get to wash his feet last night, but we did tickle them today.