Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Soloist

I saw The Soloist over the weekend. I don't want to spoil the movie, but I really enjoyed the way it focused on the relationship between the two characters. It could have easily stereotyped mental illness or used the film as a political soapbox around medication or homelessness. While these issues came up, the central message was one of the power of choice and the power of relationship.
I also happen to enjoy the way the craft of writing was woven into the story. A journalist comes upon the main character and moves from seeing him as a "story" in the distant, objective sense to investing in his story and becoming part of it.
Stories are central to who we are. Each of us has a story to tell. Even the homeless guy asking for spare change. Even the waiter who is extra nice or extra unkind to you. Even the jerk who cut you off on this morning's commute.
Maybe one of the things I like about movies like this and Stranger Than Fiction is that it blends two of my passions. Words and people. The ability to share our stories is healing. It is what builds relationships.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brain Dump

Here's a random list of 10 things going on in my brain and my life right now, just for fun:

  1. I just got back from a week long workshop on mental health and wellness. Once I process all the information, I'll post more on it.
  2. I need to update my Etsy site.
  3. I have the hiccups.
  4. Katerina loves her Easter present, a feather, rattan,and catnip concoction she can't stop batting all over the place.
  5. It's supposed to snow tonight and be in the 80's by Friday.
  6. I have over 650 emails and I'm feeling peer pressure to get my inbox down to zero.
  7. I really, really need to get some quality art time in to my schedule this week.
  8. I wish I understood Twitter better. I don't think I use it effectively at all.
  9. Every time I plan to walk to the gym, it rains.
  10. I'm finishing up my study of Job and moving on to a devotional series on Joshua.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What I Gave Up For Lent

Lutherans do not traditionally practice giving up something for Lent, but I and many of my fellow Lutheran friends do so anyway. I've given up a variety of things over the years, everything from TV to chocolate to bad language. I've given up other things during Lent, like the time I let go of someone I loved very much when she died of cancer during Lent.
This year it was really difficult to determine what God would have me give up. As I've mentioned, life is not easy for me these days. While there was a time when I grew spiritually by giving up one of life's little pleasures for a little while, I just don't think God is calling me to give up sources of relaxation, comfort, and support at this time. Yes, there probably still would be benefits to giving up various foods or forms of technology. Right now I need to believe that to eliminate that which makes me laugh, smile, or feel encouraged would be to reject the very gifts God is offering me.
When I came to that conclusion, it was as if a window to heaven had opened. I decided to give up hopelessness and discouragement for Lent. And you know what? It actually worked. Life is still hard, and I still get stressed and overwhelmed. But despair has lost much of the hold it had over me since I decided to give it up.
Now, along with this theme, I'd like you to go to this site and listen to a song by John Waller that speaks to exactly what I'm talking about. You'll have to scroll down to the song called "Our God Reigns Here." I really hope you listen to the song. Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. This means you.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Holy Week

The last few weeks have been challenging, so I took some much needed time off from a few things, including blogging. I will be at a conference next week and I will likely be too busy and too tired to blog then.
So what do I have to talk about during this Holy Week? It always seems that my words are insufficient to describe my experience of the week we commemorate the passion of our Lord. It's a very contemplative, introspective time for me. It's also hard to articulate my thoughts. Yet each year, God teaches me something new and different about some element of the events of Holy Week.
Our sermon on Sunday focused on how Mary did a "beautiful thing" by anointing Jesus with expensive perfume. She was not aware of the events to come, nor could she have stopped them if she knew, but "she did what she could" to show her love for Jesus. Hers was a radical expression of faith and devotion as Jesus approached what He knew would be terrible agony and suffering. In short order, Jesus' friends betrayed, denied, and abandoned Him. Even His Father forsook Him for a time so we would never have to know the pain of that separation.
I know that when people are powerless to change my own painful circumstances it means something when they choose to "do what they can," even at their own expense. Some people find it difficult to stick around during the hard times. It's easy to love and call someone your friend during the good times. Real commitment is needed when the going gets tough.
I wonder if Christ thought of Mary's act of devotion while He was on the cross. I wonder if she ever knew how much she really did.