Love for Lyrics

Yesterday we sang “Amazing Grace” and I was struck by the beautiful paradox of the first line of the second verse:

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.

If you hang around Christian theology discussions very long you’ll know the grace vs. works debate is HUGE! Where do you stand – once saved always saved or progressive sanctification? I know a guy who said the best advice is to live like you are saved by your works but to believe like you are saved by faith alone. I realize it does matter; what we believe affects the way we live our lives, but I also think the entire discussion is bigger than any one of us can pin down in a three-point sermon.

That is the awesomeness of God, really. Rob Bell has an sweet demonstration of God’s otherness in his video “Everything is Spiritual“. He explains that God lives in an entirely different dimension than we do – one not limited by time and space. He uses the analogy of a human interacting with a family who lives only in 2-D, on paper. Like Flat Stanley. Imagine how many things would seem strange to the 2-D family if we tried to enter their world in our 3-D forms. Bell used a white board marker to illustrate the way the truth of God can be hard for us to pin down. As he holds up the marker and asks what shape it is in 2-D.  We realize it looks like a rectangle from that perspective. But we know in 3-D it is a cylinder. Bell says, Yeah, God is like that.

So, back to grace and works and the lyrics to the old hymn:

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.

Yeah, grace is like that.

Pets: Our Privilege

This is our new puppy, Oso (Spanish for “bear” – a tribute to his Cuban heritage):

osoada

We got a steal of a deal on him because he was an older puppy and not AKC registered. Normally a puppy of this breed, the Havanese, can run between $600 and $2,000. We paid $150. And, no, I didn’t do all the things you are supposed to do when you buy a puppy. I didn’t check out his parents or his home or his papers. I actually picked him up in a Kum N Go parking lot -  much like a drug deal, really. But he’s a wonderful little guy. We needed him. And this week our vet checked him out thoroughly and declared him a “perfect dog.”

oso

Funny thing is, when I mentioned we were getting a new puppy, my Egyptian colleague asked about our other dog, not knowing he had died shortly after a car hit him in front of our house. He went on to explain his interest in the Western attitude toward pets compared to the Eastern attitude to which he is more accustomed. I could only assume he meant our sometimes over-the-top affection for pets that makes us dress them in little clothes and buy memorial stones when they pass.

Yes, that is what he meant. Growing up, he had both a dog and a cat, but he only kept them because he shared his own food with them. Buying dog food or cat food is unheard of in Egypt. In his homeland it is also a common occurrence for the police to walk the streets and shoot stray dogs just to be rid of the nuisance. My friend shook his head and smiled, “It’s terrible, really, I don’t know why we are this way.”

Then he told me a story he meant to be funny, but it broke my heart instead. Last year when our pastor visited Egypt with my colleague, they stopped on the street to visit with a cart driver and his horse. This job, much like a rickshaw driver in China or Thailand, is a job for the poorest of the poor. It is no way to make a living. Our pastor took an apple given to him by his Egyptian hosts and began to feed it to the skinny horse. What he didn’t know was that the Egyptians called this apple an “American apple” because it is imported and very expensive. As our pastor let the horse take a bite, the driver anxiously turned to my friend and asked him to ask our pastor if he would please save some of the apple for him instead. No matter that the horse had already bitten into the flesh, the driver longed for a taste of that kind of extravagance.

“So, having a pet is a privilege of the rich, isn’t it?” I asked my friend.

He smiled at me sheepishly, as he does when I try to dissect something he would rather leave as a simple anecdote, “Yes. It is.”

Birthdays, Puppies, and Unplugging

Some updates.

This week is Macy’s second birthday! (On Thursday.) Look at how she’s grown:

macynb

macy2

She and Dan share a birthday . . . you can imagine this is one my favorite days of the year! To celebrate, Macy gets a weekend with Grandma Kathy, the big kids get a weekend with Grandma Cheri, and Dan gets to play with his band, findingBethel, at the Crossover Festival at Lake of the Ozarks. I’ll be with him. AND, we’re planning to pick up a new puppy. I didn’t think I’d want another dog so soon after losing Chuck, but our house feels a little empty without a furry blur under our feet.

I’m also planning to leave my computer at home over the weekend. My new BFF Anne Jackson talks about this on her blog, the importance of unplugging now and then to give yourself a break from the attitudes and tensions that come with constant connectivity to infinite miles of information. I’ll still have my phone that gets emails, so I won’t be totally disconnected. I’m just hoping to remember what it is like to read a real book and interact with humans (and a puppy) without googling for the answers!

To close, here is a video of Dan and Macy – the birthday duo – at Christmas time. It showcases Dan’s playing a little and it is a perfect picture of Macy’s determined spirit as well. (And, don’t worry, she isn’t going to fall off that piano bench. Relax.) Enjoy! Happy random summer weekend!

Dan and Macy at the Piano from Felicity White on Vimeo.

Things I’m Enjoying: Free Sample Chapters!

Um, guys, Anne Jackson commented on my blog! The subtitle of her own blog (FlowerDust.net) is “GREEK FOR ‘ANNE JACKSON LIKES YOU'”. That could be the best blog title ever; I smile every time I visit, and I think she really means it! Anne is a funny and insightful writer and her perspective is always interesting to me. She a fun Tweeter, also.

Speaking of Twitter, Donald Miller sent out this link to a free chapter of his upcoming book A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. It is based on Miller’s story message I’ve been raving about for months. I simply can’t wait to get my hands on the whole book. (Also, Miller has a cool Father’s Day campaign going on for his mentorship program. Check it out here.)

Finally, last week I listened to a sample chapter from Glen Packiam’s new book SECONDHAND JESUS: TRADING RUMORS OF GOD FOR A FIRSTHAND FAITH. I loved it so much. Packiam’s first chapter is a description of how the moral failure of his pastor Ted Haggard (you remember the story, I’m sure) affected Packiam as a staff member at the church and, most of all, as an individual. Packiam’s voice is poetic, wise, and merciful. This is another pre-order at the top of my wish list!

I think you’ll be busy with those links! I told my husband Dan that reading like this is my favorite kind. Intellectual stimulation of the spiritual genre is soul food for me. If you are looking for some, enjoy!

Blogging as Therapy?

I read a quote this week from a young adult trying to overcome self-injury (or, cutting, as it is often termed). The woman claimed that the blog she kept as a record of her attempted recoveries – one that, I should mention, also linked to many other blogs dedicated to overcoming self-harm – was her therapy.

At first I thought, oh, that’s nice. Blogs really are so useful for sorting out thoughts.

And then I thought, wait, will that work?

I’ve never been to therapy, although I’m pretty certain there were times in my life that I would have benefited from such a thing. (Read a sample chapter from Anne Jackson’s book Mad Church Disease here – she is a believer in therapy for Christians for the sake of a more objective outside perspective on certain situations, especially ministry issues.) But I couldn’t help thinking that even though blogging can be helpful for certain things, I’m not sure it should qualify as therapy.

The idea of therapy is that you entrust your problems and concerns to another person hopefully qualified to give you tools for overcoming said problems and concerns. Blogging, to me, is more about expressing your own ideas and opinions. Sure, we can help one another in a blog conversation, but it just isn’t the same. Is it? I mean, I have the power to delete your comments, you know that, right?

Maybe therapy should be your therapy. What do you think?

CompassionArt

Dan and I are dreamers. We dream about music projects and writing projects. We dream about what our kids will grow to be and how lovely it will be to grow old together even when they leave us. Sometimes our dreams are original – ideas for songs or  books. Other times we see another person’s project and recognize a dream we didn’t even know existed in our own hearts.

That is what happened when we heard about CompassionArt. Dan has long admired Martin Smith of Delirious? and the CompassionArt project was instigated by Smith as a way of uniting art and social justice. Every writer, some of the biggest names in worship music, gave up all royalty rights to the songs on this recording and turned them over to a number of charitable organizations. This is the kind of thing we would LOVE to do with our lives.

We’ve been listening to the CD for about a week. We’d like to add a couple of the songs into our regular service rotation and the idea that the CCLI royalty money will benefit the poor is inspiring. This is one of the promo videos.

Just thought I’d tell you about another thing I’ve been enjoying lately.

The Reason I’ve Been Quiet

Besides the terror of Finals Week, a humiliating Mathematics placement test, a sick child, etc., the final straw on Thursday evening was when our happy dog, Chuck, was accidentally hit by a car in front of our house. He died later that night.  I would like to consider this post an apology to anyone who has loved and lost a pet because I probably used to make fun of you. Now I’ve joined your ranks. I can’t believe how much I have cried over the last couple of days.

chuck

I’m not ready to blog eloquently about him or neatly list all the reasons why I know I’ll be back to myself soon. Instead, I’m going to take a break. Probably just a week or so, but I wanted you all to know. Don’t worry about me, my heart has been broken before, I know it mends well! It just seems like a good time to indulge in a mini-sabatical.