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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

The teams in the Superbowl this year are the Steelers (from Pittsburgh) and Cardinals (from Arizona)… right?  I think that is right.  So I have predictions.  It’s very scientific.  Science is observing patterns.  My hypothesis is that certain factors determine victory: home of the team, culture of that home, name recognition, and age of the leader. 
 
My example case is the recent presidential election. 
The Winner was a man from the northern city of Chicago, whose culture is fairly urban and industrial.  He got enough media attention to be the candidate of choice, whose name everyone knew.  He is also one of the youngest presidents in US history.
 
The Runner Up was a man from the state of Arizona, whose culture is independent (known in some circles as ‘maverick’).  Though his was a name that has been in the primaries of presidential races for over a decade, he was the candidate no one expected to be the nominee.  He came from nowhere.  His age was the subject of much discussion, as he would have been among the oldest presidents of the United States. 
 
Can you miss the correlations between the political field and the Superbowl?  I predict that:
The Winner will be a team from the northern, urban Pittsburgh.  Industrial?  You bet.  They’re called the Steelers.  This team has been around for a long time, regular contenders for the AFC championship and won a Superbowl within the last 5 years.  They are led by a man who is also young in NFL standards, a recent star in the league. 
 
The Loser will be a team from rough and ready Arizona, this upstart team no one predicted would represent the NFC in the Superbowl for the year.  They flew in, as it were, from nowhere.  Leading this team is the veteran quarterback Kurt Warner, an ancient in the physical sport of professional football. 
 
My brother says he wants Kurt Warner – a good guy, to be sure – to win tomorrow, but I’m saying the precedent just isn’t there.  He says, “Hope.” 
 
I find that ironic. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn
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“Set back to wind,” she wrote. The Spirit fills us, pushes us along, just the next gust or the ever-present breath. No sinking, no long-range course for us. Like the wind.

John 3:8 – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I love the wind. Strong or gentle, wrapping me or rattling my window, my eyes light like Galadriel’s going to sea. Calling, like I’m supposed to be there, in it. Hard to only watch. And what am I watching? Not really the wind itself. Family is careful to remind me that I am not seeing wind, but its impact. Transfer of energy. But the wind takes a long time to get tired.

Rain in the wind. Hair in the wind. Eowyn’s flag atop Edoras in the wind. Trees in the wind. Windy City. Windmills. Wind on my face. A sail-ship powered by the wind.

Romance of Sail by Frank Vining Smith
Romance of Sail

All my life I’ve wanted a picture of a ship. I’m picky. It has to be a beautiful ship on a beautiful sea. And the ship can’t bee too modern, or a pirate ship either. Ships in bottles excite me. I love anchors and the white and blue of a sailor, white ropes and wooden floors and round windows.

Comprehend my delight at finding the perfect substitute for my ship picture or ship-in-a-bottle: a model of a ship, about a foot long, unpainted. As soon as it’s made I will place it in prominence in my room, to inspire like wind in my room every day of the year. Such are all my decorations, bits of memory pointing me to love others, worship God, walk in the spirit, quest for the truth.

 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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I’m back from New Attitude, a cleverly-advertised conference that has slogans like “Forget Reinvention; Save the Wheel,” and “I *whale* New Attitude,” or “Yes, na.”  My mom asked what were the shapes on my wristband.  They were letters: almost shapeless letters. 
 
The conference had dozens of insights and applications that I may or may not share.  The one I thought about today at work was evangelism.  God always talks to me about evangelism.  And I don’t know how to respond.  What about gender roles?  Should I be at work?  Work is where I know people who aren’t saved.  But I don’t really talk to them about the gospel – or anything else.  How do I start a conversation at work?  Is it appropriate?  What about outside of work?  Should I witness to little kids or to women, or is it good to tell men, too?  Should I be sharing with every person, or wait for those special and obvious opportunities? 
 
Why do I have to do it alone?  Do I? 
 
Searching for answers in the Bible, I wondered about the early Christians.  The women were taught to be keepers at home, which shuts down access to non-Christians beyond your household.  But there was food that needed to be acquired.  Did they talk to their grocers?  If you’re a farmer, male or female, you probably spend entire days alone.  So you’re not spending your whole life evangelizing.  Is that an excuse or a motivation for someone like me? 
 
CJ Mahaney preached one night about talking to yourself.  He said it’s good as long as you’re intentional about telling yourself true things, like God’s promises, and what God’s done for you.  One way to do this is to sing Christian/true/worship/Scripture-based songs.  So at work over lunch I listened to some of RC Sproul Jr’s (and the Highlands Study Center’s) Basement Tapes.  On the way to and from work I listened to a Michael Card tape I have in my car.  About a decade ago he wrote the official song for that year’s National Day of Prayer.  “If my people will humbly pray, and seek My face and turn away from all their wicked ways, then I will hear them and move my hand, and freely then will I forgive, and I will heal their land.” 
 
Near the end, the prayer-song continues, “Grant us hope that we might see a future for the land we love: our life, our liberty.”  I was driving on a boring American road with fences and cement sidewalks, a few trees that were artificially located there.  The politics are less than hopeful to me.  I didn’t mind visiting Kentucky, and Chicago is my climactic and cultural home away from home, but the only hopeful and redeeming and loved thing about this country to me is the people.  I wonder how much longer the rest of it will last. 
 
That’s one of the things that contributes to my evangelism angst.  America is so lost, and as much as someone who barely talks about God to people can judge, fairly closed to the gospel.  I want to change the world (and be in community with those who change the world), but I don’t know how.  We watched a video about the Bible shortage in Uganda.  In a congregation of 210, there were ten Bibles.  Everyone was eager for a Bible, desperate to hear even one verse read.  Those with Bibles handed them off to unsaved neighbors who read it and got saved themselves.  Does that work here? 
 
I have a friend who is planting a church.  His family is a missionary family to Denver, Colorado.  They’ve studied the Bible and decided that the way to plant a church is to live out and preach the gospel in their neighborhood as they go.  I’m afraid or shy or lazy or doubtful, because I don’t see my neighbors as that open.  The questions come back: how many neighbors does it take to obey?  I only have to talk to one at a time.  And don’t I care? 
 
Amy of Humble Musing Fame writes about different callings, and her life.  She wants to raise her kids in a safer, less worldly place.  Is that wrong? she wonders.  Her answer is that she’s doing this out of faith, following what God has called her to do: raise a big family and blog and support her husband and talk to checkers in the supermarkets.  I hope, at least, that my calling is different.  Like I said, I want to change the world. 
 
It’s so much easier to love the apparently more-open people groups in Uganda, or in the Middle East where there is a hunger for the Bible and the gospel.  Does that mean I should go there?  Or should I do hard things?  Should I evangelize Denver?  Or should I meet my neighbors? 
 
The comforting, answer-part of the New Attitude weekend was its focus on and faith in the Bible.  The messages convicted me that if I were reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Bible more, I wouldn’t be worried about all these questions.  My next step would be evident and my faith would be ok with knowing just that.  The answers would come up, and I would be peaceful.  My suspicion is that prioritizing Scripture would also make me a ready and passionate evangelist. 
 
So here’s what I’m doing: memorizing Psalm 37, and reading Genesis (along with Henry Morris’s The Genesis Record, I think).  We Christians, we’ve generally been let off the hook, bribed into daily devotions by the dangling offer of “all it takes is ten minutes a day.”  I have a feeling that is the wrong perspective.  From my own personal experience I know I waste way too much time, and that I am more peaceful, obedient, and close to God if I spend more time intentionally studying His Word.  Pray for me.  Join me.  See if it makes a difference in my blogging. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Well. I thought of this quote, which I read in my book today, and wondered what it means. Is it platitude, something to make us stop whining or questioning or worrying just like when moms say, “Because I said so”? Or is it a theological promise, diffused into the comforting, homey language of a soothing grandma? If it is theological, shouldn’t it say “All shall be good,” or “All shall be glorious,” or “One day every knee shall bow”? Because in the end, all things are so much better than well. They are delightful, the work of God, who created all good things and is the giver of every good gift. If the promise is more immediate, I think it must be untrue, because there is no guarantee, even at the end of one’s long life, that all things shall be well.

But what wonderful, deep, stable, pleasant a word is “well.” It is like the assured love of a couple married for decades, not fighting, sitting together, commenting when one thinks of something to say. But that is not dispassionate. And things being well, that is something dear and treasureable, beautiful, and simple. A recurring theme in obscure quotes and literature I’ve met is simplicity. Some people just dream of a simple life, where they have bread every day, a simple love, a good family, and a quiet death. I can’t understand that. I don’t want that. Even if my life looks like that, I want those who are not interviewed for biographies to know that my life meant something more, that it was valiant and visionary, touching lives and changing them and the whole world. I want to be well, but I would rather be good. I want to be simple, but would rather follow the swirling road of faith, blown about by the Spirit. If big things are happening, if dire things, I would rather suffer in them than ignore them, apart, all things being well – but only for me.

Imagine my granddaughter finding one of my journals, reading of my pathetic longing for Chicago, and sharing that. Suppose I never live there, but it’s the family universal castle in the clouds, visited occasionally and left only reluctantly, but always held as this ideal, secret like a password or family recipe. Just an example. Now, wouldn’t it be exciting to find one of my great-grandmother’s or great-great-grandmother’s journals that raved about Chicago?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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One can read over the brim of one’s cup, just as Treebeard the Ent studied Merry and Pippin in his mountain home over his entdraught in Middle Earth long ago.  Such was I doing when I stopped thinking about the words and became more attentive to the taste in my cup.  I was drinking a vanilla chai tea latte, hot, and slightly watered down due to my lack of tablespoon at work.  The flavor is one of the new things introduced to my life in a year that is rapidly flowing to its end.  I like it. 

 

But I miss hot chocolate.  Not that I never drink chocolate anymore.  That I drink chai tea when I would have been sipping cocoa is undeniable.  Life has changed.  My tastes have dutifully broadened as an expected part of growing up.  If they are broadened, they are also dispersed.  Now the intensity of my appreciation for chocolate is tempered by my acceptance of vanilla chai tea. 

 

Would my life be better if I had refused to taste chai tea?  If through loyalty I remained zealous for chocolate alone, could I still be a grown up and still be happy?  Would I be happier? 

 

Life is a choice whether to try new things.  Once surrendered to a new pet topic, to the diminution of my former sole passion, my experience says there is no possibility of returning to a single-passion life.  A new opportunity arises, and if I am consistent, is tried.  Causes ebb and flow, wax and wane now, each replacing the last for its moment in the spotlight. 

 

I haven’t really written anything in a while.  Inspiration departed.  Whenever that happens I get borderline depressed, because life seems to have lost its flavor, and my passion for each moment has waned.  I don’t like drifting, shallow waves of life lapping around an unresponsive me.  Leaving the metaphor, though, I keep on doing things: going to work, talking to people, checking email.  Even genuine smiles come to my face. 

 

Now, slowly, I think I’m coming out of my doldrums.  A week ago Saturday night, I completely spontaneously saw a movie, August Rush.  There were so few people in the theater, and I was so tired.  Reclined in my seat, I tilted my head against the back of the cushion, and absorbed a beautiful movie.  The soundtrack was uniquely expressive, imposing its presence and importance.  Music spoke in the movie.  It communicated identity, feelings, direction, summons, friendship, longings, and fulfillment. 

 

Afterward I escaped the scent of popcorn into a fresh midnight wind.  The air was too cold to linger, but I breathed it deeply, and memorized its touch on my face.  I felt the cold and the current.  My brother and I talked of how we love things and moments with feeling, and flavor.  They say something, and mean something. 

 

In contrast, the chocolate cake I had just before the movie was bland.  The color boasted bursting flavor, when in actuality the taste was dull and muted.  Not like fudge, or cinnamon, or grape juice.  Those things are so bursting with flavor that they assert their identities. 

 

Then a few days later was a day full of feeling, and a sense of doing things important, though everyday.  I cried near the end, for a few friends came home.  Tears break the walls of the world without passion.  That’s the metaphor of George MacDonald’s Princess Lightness. 

 

Yet when the walls are down, and I care about what happens around me, when I’m advancing my might on causes and people, there’s the probability that I’ll see the world in reality, and see myself as I am.  Couple this to just turning 23, to holidays and old friends, and I am sad now – not depressed, but sad in a sentimental way, in a fightable way. 

 

Sunday I went to Red Robin alone.  They offered me a free burger for my birthday in exchange for receiving their emails, so I went to redeem my coupon.  The staff was nice.  I brought a book about grace.  And in between sips of a chocolate shake and bites of luscious burger, I observed.  The walls caught my attention, bearing an eclectic collection of posters, prints, and photographs.  One fantastic picture showed downtown Chicago along the Chicago River in 1929.  Already the concentration of sky-piercing towers was a marvel.  Chicago is my favorite city.  I can’t lay my finger on the reason, only that when I am there I feel alive.  Every place is a story; every sound has a flavor; and every person has a style. 

 

I love Christmas for the same reason.  Each song is a tale, each note a rush of emotion.  Every light twinkles mystery into my soul.  Altered from its original intent or not, in December the whole country is united in focus.  No one asks why the stores all play music about snow, bells, peace, and Jesus.  It is understood when you wear red that you’re being festive.  Even those who have dropped out of church make it back for the memories of candlelight at Christmas Eve services. 

 

So today, especially at Christmas, I want to challenge you to seize the day.  Breathe the moment.  Live to the hilt.  Pursue life.  Feed on truth.  Praise beauty.  Remember.  Cry.  Hope.  Laugh.  Sing.  Love. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Sets of four?  Sounds like rummy!  I love being asked questions.  For one thing, answers are so much easier then. 

1. 4 movies you can always watch: Wives and Daughters, While You Were Sleeping, Two Towers, Pride and Prejudice with Kam Heskin (no, I’m not Mormon)

2. 4 bands you can never get enough of: Bands aren’t my think, but oh, I like Boyz In the Sink  After that we’ll have to do singers: Michael Card, Steve Green, (stealing one from Woven and Spun) Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack

3. 4 towns you lived in: Blue Springs, MO; Aurora, CO; Farmer’s Branch, TX; Garland, TX

4. 4 shows you like to watch: Pushing Daisies, Leave it to Beaver, Numbers, Joan of Arcadia
5. 4 websites you visit daily: WordPress, Biblical Womanhood Blog, Amy’s Humble Musings, Elect Exiles

6. 4 favorite foods: chocolate, pizza, hamburgers, strawberries
7. 4 places you’d like to be now: Chicago, Scotland, the mall, Israel
8. 4 songs that really move you: Christmas Shoes, Held, We Will Dance, Beauty and the Beast

9. 4 books you will always love:The Walk by Michael Card, Lord of the Rings, Passion and Purity, That Hideous Strength
10. 4 colors that will always be in your closet: navy blue, white, black, green

11.4 authors you’ll always love: Jane Austen, Elisabeth Elliot, Michael Card, Dr. Henry Morris
12. 4 favorite actors/actresses whose talent you honestly respect: Gerard Butler, Cary Grant, Sandra Bullock, Bill Paterson
13.4 languages you’d love to be fluent in: Hebrew, Old English, German, French
14.4 other countries you would like to live in: Scotland, Israel, New Zealand, Ecuador
15.4 skills you would like to improve: sewing, teaching, writing, cooking

16.4 items that are “a few of your favorite things”: white curtains, soft throws, my trifle dish, fog

17. 4 items you actually use like they’re your favorites: laptop, car, tiny hair clips, denim skirt

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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