Saw Star Wars, I Did

At first, I just thought the moon was extraordinarily bright. Then the truth hit me: dawn had arrived. That might be the first time I’ve ever stayed awake till the sun began to rise.

Last night also became my first-ever movie marathon, as well as my first full viewing of any of Star Wars episodes 1, 2, and 3. I generally blame of my lack of cultural knowledge on having been homeschooled on a farm in Montana, but for having missed out on these three experiences, the guilt rides fairly on my own shoulders for a) not having attended enough youth group functions in high school, b) never having gone to college (that’s a blog-post for another day), and c) never bothering to sit down and watch the new Star Wars movies.

I have to give credit for the whole idea to Brandon, Professor of Cultural Education (he’s already taught me nearly everything I know about anime and the Muppets.) He suggested the marathon in Blockbuster, after gasping playfully and looking rather shocked because I said I’d never seen the new trilogy.

Ten hours later, we sat on my floor amid a sea of DVD cases, empty iced-mocha glasses, a pizza box, half-full soda bottles, remote controls, and random pillows and blankets. We’d stayed awake—he checked frequently and faithfully to make sure I didn’t go to sleep and miss any of the story. My good-natured roommate, much amused by our movie marathon, had gone to bed. We finally looked around at the mess, rubbed movie-glaze out of our eyes and laughed, and I can now say that I’ve seen all of the Star Wars episodes. And the clone-war cartoons that go between II and III.

If anyone had told me three years ago that I’d ever actually like a movie like Revenge of the Sith, I’d have questioned their prophetic or perceptive abilities. Since I’ve spent the past three years outgrowing a lot of my old notions, however, and have fallen in love with deep and somewhat dark dramas like Harry Potter and Phantom of the Opera, it’s become less of a stretch. Now, having seen the new Star Wars, I have to say that I liked it… a lot.

When we have, in the world, parables like Star Wars… and Harry Potter… and Phantom of the Opera… it amazes me that we as humans could ever fall into the very traps those stories warn against: idolatry of power and of another person being two of the most dangerous. That, I think, more than anything else struck me in watching Star Wars. I watched the Sith poison Anakin’s mind, playing off his beautiful love for Padme, tempting him with the thought of controlling his own destiny and hers.

Yoda’s advice didn’t ring true with me the first time I heard it. He told Anakin to make the effort to let go of the ones he loved—well, being Yoda, he probably said it more like “Learn to let go, you must”—and my mind reacted immediately with “What is this, some sort of ‘He who loves none has no woes’ Eastern proposition?” Not until I contrasted his words with those of Sidious did I catch the wisdom that would have saved Anakin, had he only followed it: Even the deepest of loves must be held with an open hand. The moment anyone attempts to own it, control it, or put it absolutely before all other good, is the moment the door gets flung wide and evil finds its way in.

I loved the way the movie ended, with the babies Luke and Leia being placed in their adoptive families; Luke with Anakin’s stepbrother, on the very planet where Anakin first met Qui-Gon and Padme. Especially knowing what Luke went on to do... I cannot describe that ending any better than with the word redemptive.


Pirates of the Caribbean II

Having waited patiently for the crowds to thin out, I saw Dead Man's Chest in a mostly-full theater on Thursday night. Here's fair warning: If you're a jumpy person, don't be the one to hold the popcorn. Otherwise, you're likely to wind up with popcorn all over yourself. All over the floor, too. And maybe the pirate sitting next to you. All I can say is, it's a good thing I wasn't also holding the soda.

Anyways, after seeing Pirates II, I realized that I now need to go back and see the first one again. My main memories of The Curse of the Black Pearl are Johnny Depp's entrance, the line "This is just like what the Greeks did at Troy, except they were in a horse, and we're in dresses," and disconnected scenes that might or might not contain important parts of the storyline. So I'm not going to write a full review of Dead Man's Chest. For a complete and well-thought-out review, check out Chris Knight's take on it here.

As for my thoughts--well, I just remember seeing my first Johnny Depp movie, Benny and Joon. For the next several years, I didn't realize who had played the quirky and unforgettable outcast, Sam (who brought life to an otherwise rather stupid movie, if my memory holds true); my good friend Edd told me in the summer of 2004, after giving me a brief but hilariously lifelike imitation of Sam's breadsticks-dance with a couple of potatoes.

Now, having seen Johnny Depp as Captain Jack and in other roles, I've got to take my proverbial hat off to him for perfecting a practically unsurpassed gift as an actor. I might question his ability to portray anything non-offbeat, were it not that I saw Chocolat and Finding Neverland (fabulous movies, both of them, in my opinion). I love seeing creativity taken to its best, whether in acting, writing, art, music, science, sport, or any other field. Johnny Depp takes the idea of a character and gives it a soul.

At some point, I'm going to have to watch Dead Man's Chest again, if for no other reason than that I never caught sight of my former coworker, Rusty Rice, who reportedly got called in as an extra a couple of times during the filming of this movie and the next. He worked on one of the tallships that was used in the movies, and at one point even sent my then-boss a picture of himself wearing Johnny Depp's hat.

The final view we get of Captain Jack Sparrow kicks off the marketing for the next movie. Anyone who sees that scene and doesn't care whether or not they catch the trilogy finale--well, they're missing that integral human gotta-know-the-ending-of-the-story component. The writers apparently took lessons from Scheherazade herself.



In the final book of the "Anne of Green Gables" series, Rilla of Ingleside, Rilla's older brother Jem comes home from World War 1. With him comes his dog, who waited for him at the train station for four years.

I know it's fiction... don't know if that ever actually happened or not... but it's a good story.

Little "Dog Monday" has to follow Jem everywhere, of course, once he has his soldier back safe and sound. Monday even insisted upon going to church, where he jumped up in the middle of the sermon and barked joyfully. Afterwards, the Reverend John Meredith--who has some great lines in those books--patted Jem's dog on the head and said something I've loved:

"Faith and affection and loyalty are precious things wherever they are found. That little dog's love is a treasure, Jem."

I've always been a big-dog person myself; Dad's had a couple of Newfoundlands in the past. Oddly enough, though, the best animal friend I've ever had--and I've had horses, rabbits, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and a bird in my lifetime--is my sister's happy-go-lucky toy poodle, Peaches. She plays and makes racket with Beth, and then when she gets tired she comes and sleeps in the crook of my arm. She's forever a puppy despite her eleven years, and I could swear she has a soul--love looks out of her eyes.


Odd Stuff

Fair warning: This post comes mostly from the abstract and somewhat nerdy part of my mind. I mainly chose to write about this because my other blog-option had more to do with how the ENTIRE WORLD, from the Buddhist monks in China to Saddam Hussein to your own next-door neighbor, is out to keep me from getting to work on time. Of course, when I'm on the freeway going seventy-five with time to spare and clear road ahead, there'll be a thick-jowled monster disguised as an SUV breathing down my bumper because some minivan too prudish to go ten over and too impatient to slow down is stuck in my blind spot, going seventy-six.

Ah well. Some days come to us for fun, others to build character. Some days come to ram character down our throats with a turkey fork.

There, I think I've cleared off my sarcasm. I can write now.

The things that come in handy in life typically take me by surprise; which, I suppose, is why the inside of my bedroom closet looks the way it does. But I'm not writing about my bedroom closet either... that's a dark secret if ever there was one.

One of my quirks is a total fascination with language; English, of course, but foreign language as well. Someday I hope to be fluent in another tongue, and the main hindrance to that is my inability to pick just one. I have become quite the jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none with foreign language. For anyone bored enough to want the details:

Don't hate me, but I fell in love with French at the tender age of six, and have never totally recovered. I can actually come up with sentences in this language, when I can remember the necessary words. The grammar doesn't come with any guarantees, though.

Everybody takes Spanish, so out of a desire to be unique I chose not to; at least, until our church offered a 12-week course, and I took it, like climbing a mountain, "because it was there." One can't really study language without also understanding the culture behind the words, and the fiery soul of the Latino people called out to mine. If I'm reading, I can figure out a lot given a certain amount of context, but only scattered words get through when it comes to me in auditory form.

Olympic figure-skating might not seem like a good reason to study a language, but I picked up a Russian book or two simply because Sergei Grinkov and Yekaterina Gordeyeva shot nearer artistic perfection in their chosen medium than most of us ever dream of in ours. Dad also likes it, so he brings me home words his Russian coworkers teach him.

Mandarin Chinese just sounded interesting, and Arabic seemed like a good idea--although I learned exactly two words of Arabic and never figured out how to decifer the tight script. Don't ask me to translate Chinese, either. When Chris Rock, at the end of Rush Hour, said "Shye-shye ni; ni hau-de," I knew what he said, but that short phrase uses almost every word I remember.

Large amounts of singing in Italian and German gave me recognition for the words and flow of those languages, though I can't generally translate (or put enough force into my German consonants), and I've sung in Latin. I once wrote an alphabet song for Hebrew, though I forget which character belongs to which letter, and I can read the ancient Greek alphabet.

Oddly enough, this random scrap-bag of knowledge gets used in my life, and not just to read the French signs across the Canadian border. For instance, I once had a boss who went to the Ukraine, brought back receipts, and wanted me to keep track of the finances. I could read the Cyrillic script on those receipts, as Ukrainian is a close cousin to Russian, and generally figure out what went where.

Nowadays, writing markup for large amounts of text which may have any sort of linguistic fragments contained therein, it actually helps to know that "C'est mon blog, et je l'aime; vous savez que vous desirez le lire" is French, "Enrique Iglesias" is Spanish for Henry Churches, "Alcune persone si comportano come i piccoli bambini malvagi quando guidano un'automobile" is Italian (although I don't know if it's syntactically correct, as I used free online translation to get that), and "Foo! Kakaya nyevkoosnaya yeda!" is (transliterated) Russian (but if you're a guest at some Russians' house for dinner, please don't say that; say "Kakaya khoroshaya yeda, bolshoya spasiba!" Otherwise, you'll just get me--and yourself--in trouble with the cook.)

Now, you can all amuse yourselves by either figuring out what the above phrases mean or leaving me comments to correct my grammar. Or you can just go to the comments, where I'll post the translations before going to bed.

Bonne nuit.

EDIT, 7/18/06 5:22PM: Again, I stand corrected. Chris Tucker, not Chris Rock, played opposite Jackie Chan in Rush Hour. I always get those two mixed up. They look too much alike.



I get excited about little things.

Call me crazy, but my new coffeemaker is absolutely beautiful. I found it in Wal-Mart, all sparkly and white and clean, and now it resides on my kitchen counter, where my enthusiasm for it has almost carried undertones of the stereotypical 1950's domestic. New household appliances! Rather an odd feeling for a young, hippie-hearted urbanitess. Watch out, June--you've never seen the likes of this chick before.

In this case, I'm mainly reveling in the enjoyment of the new and shiny, not being much of a caffeine addict myself. Coffee indulgence, for me, almost always comes as part of a social event. I got the coffeemaker for social events; particularly Brandon, through whose veins runs the java of kings, and my small group, which meets at my place. And I have to say, having just done a test run on it, that that stout little 4-cup Mr. Coffee percolates a good cuppa joe.

Fun fact for the week: Did any of you know that Bach--yes, the Bach--wrote a whole cantata about coffee? Appropriately titled "The Coffee Cantata", of course. If I have my fun facts straight, the good and gifted Johann Sebastian wrote it for his thirteen kids. The cantata tells the story of a lovely maiden whose father forbade her to drink any more coffee, and told her that he would not allow her to marry unless she gave it up. So she gave it up, but secretly resolved that a man could only win her favor if he promised to allow her coffee after the marriage.

How do I know this? Two words: Voice lessons. The aria "Far Beyond All Other Pleasures" (the maiden's love song for coffee; a sort of German baroque equivalent of "The Cheeseburger Song" from VeggieTales) is one of the toughest screechers I have ever had to stretch my lilting little lyric-soprano voice to reach.



They’re small, simple blue flowers; low to the ground, content to offer what they have and rest at the roots of the great stalks. I love them. They bring to mind that line in Josh Groban’s "My Confession," “I am staggered by your beauty, your unassuming grace”; they’re so much of what I want to be.

I thought of them tonight, maybe because church took me back to another time, and I found myself remembering things that I will never forget, but have shut out of my mind since my move to Bellingham.

Brady Bobbink talked about intimacy with God, as part of a series on Mark 3’s record of the disciples’ calling. He talked about how hard it is to throw your whole being over to Christ, and the exclusivity of the relationship with God—the danger of allowing more than one person or thing to enter that place rightfully reserved for another. Again I felt that rush of affection for God, that touch that I’ve missed from my life for so long.

Then the worship team got up and played the song “Your Love is Extravagant.” I haven’t heard that song in years--almost since Jeffers first played it, strumming quietly on his guitar, in one of his summers at YD—Reachout Expeditions back then. And I remembered Jeffers. And then I remembered Reachout, and what it meant to me, and what everyone there meant to me—my core team, Paul and Bob and Sarah and Jon and Rick and Aaron—and the summer staff that spoke most into my life: Edd, Guppy, Kurt, the Boyes, Jeffers, Kristin, Ruth, Elizabeth, Lisa, and Aileen—and others—and how I would not be who I am today without that place and those people.

I left YD not out of lack of love for the place or the people, but out of my own emotional crisis based on severe burnout (years of trying to do too much), shattered faith (that happens a lot to people in ministry), and grief. For which reason, when I moved to Bellingham, I accepted the total change of life and put away my memories for a time. They tied too deeply into everything I was feeling.

Tonight, I felt like God brought those memories back to me, restored, purified, even perhaps a little clearer seen through last year’s experiences. I came home and cried, but I’m sensing an opening in my heart to the past, a merging of my old life with the new.

After all this time, I see God giving me the ability to move forward, based on what He once made of me, though I’d been temporarily broken—His use of a small rural youth ministry and its passionate, pure-hearted staff to shape the life and heart and faith of one girl.

“Strange thoughts and stranger dreams
Have haunted me these days
A world that’s never what it seems
Has kept me wandering in its ways

Love as only love can speak
Has softly called my name
In love alone I will now complete
This journey back the way I came

And it’s a long way back from the wrong end of the road
And a lonely time to get through
I can hear you turn toward the footsteps you know—
just your drifter wandering home to you

Roads may bend and tides may turn
And call to wheels and oars
But my heart will beg and ache and burn
Until it finds its way to yours

And it’s a long way back from the wrong end of the road
And a lonely time to get through
The sounds you hear now are nothing you don’t know—
just your drifter coming home to you”



This, folks, is the reason I do not write about current events: By the time I get around to writing about them, the word “current” has ceased to be an appropriate descriptive term.

Be that as it may, however, I basically promised Beth I would write about Acmenormous, which happened July 3rd. After all, it was definitely worth writing about… so here, for your reading pleasure:

Bellingham, Washington. College town. Artsy. Bohemian. Green, in more ways than one. Liberal, by which I mean Democratic, if not socialist. Hippie and accepting, outdoorsy. Peaceable, except when picketing or demonstrating. Little city. Canadian-infused.

Who knew that it was half an hour’s drive to a different world?

Acme, Washington. Small town. Lots of cows. And Republicans. Thoroughly patriotic, as far as I could tell; either that, or they just really like fireworks. Education?—well, I didn’t like the way they spelled “vendors”, but apparently “venders” is an allowed spelling according to Messrs. Merriam and Webster.

Acmenormous, basically speaking, is a fireworks show—not just any fireworks show, though. If rumor doesn't lie, the masterminds take all the money they get from the previous year and use it to buy fireworks for the next year. They set them off in a giant field outside of Acme, and even Bellingham rebels show up to watch. Judging from the crowd, however, I’d have to say most of them didn’t come from Bellingham: we drink beer over here, too, but not usually with Kenny Chesney. And all those car stereos weren’t playing Bon Jovi.

The greatest thing about our Acmenormous experience, however, didn’t have anything to do with fireworks or music or small-town culture. It had to do with the guys in the next car over. Beth said she knew before we had fully parked that hilarity had joined us for the evening.

We got out of the car, and immediately one of the guys said something funny. He wasn’t talking to us, but he spoke too loudly for anyone to help hearing.

We Caucasians—despite the fact that I’m registered with the government as a Creek Indian—can’t say certain things without accusations of racism. The same does not hold true between a young African-American, whom I’ll call Tim, and his young Hispanic friend, herein dubbed Carlos. As Beth put it, “I’ve never heard so many racial slurs in one night.”

For instance, in the course of a conversation they had with the nearest guy in a pickup, Carlos said “Yeah, I work in the fields picking raspberries.” Carlos, I might add, wore a Hollister California shirt and sparkling white tennis shoes, and had fussed about having to “Shout out” a small grass stain on his shorts.

“Yeah, I’m his boss,” Tim chimed in. “I tell him ‘I see you pickin’ them light berries,' and I say, 'Don’t you pick no light berries, I tell you to pick them dark berries. You put those back.’ ”

At this point, the pickup man motioned toward Beth, who had tears running down her face from laughing so hard. Tim and Carlos welcomed us into their evening from then on.

Football came next on their agenda, and they formed a touch-tackle game with one older guy who knew how to play, a bunch of young boys who had varying degrees of skill, two girls, and themselves. We were the “crowd noise,” and they called on us several times. In between duties, we laughed. Tim kept telling people not to step on imaginary vegetables, supposedly mingled in with the long grass. He also teased Carlos for having no knowledge of the Spanish language. He, however, had no knowledge of the ball or the rules.

“Is he black?” Carlos asked the older guy, teasingly, halfway through the game. “Is he black? He can’t play football!”

“What are you talking about, Carlos?” his friend returned. “You can’t speak Spanish!”

Eventually, the football game dissipated and the guys headed off somewhere; a couple of my brother-in-law’s friends showed up; the daylight faded. I got cold and sleepy, and my mind wandered away, not to return until the loudspeaker informed us that the fireworks would happen shortly.

Somebody’s granddaughter played the Star-Spangled Banner on the saxophone, just before the fireworks. And they did have some big fireworks, especially for a privately-run show. And then I fell asleep in the car, waiting to get out of the field. At least I wasn’t driving.

It’s a good show. Everyone should go next year.


After Mom read my blog about books, she said "What about Abba? and John Denver? and 'Dirty Laundry?' " In other words, she and Dad did let my sisters and I listen to secular music. I stand corrected. We had one tape, which contained "Take a Chance on Me" and "Chiquitita" by Abba, a couple of John Denver songs, and that old hit, "Dirty Laundry," which I remember singing cheerfully as a child "Kickemony up, kickemony down" because I didn't know how the lyric really went.

For that matter, I've always had trouble understanding song lyrics. When I was very small, Mom used to listen to this beautiful, achingly sad song about someone who died the other night. At least that's what I thought, until I saw the lyric years later: "El Shaddai, El Shaddai, El Elyon na Adonai." To be fair, four-year-olds can't be expected to understand Hebrew, but I have the same problem with English. I could swear today that Elton John sings "Hold me close, I'm trying to dance here/Down the head lice on the highway" ("Tiny Dancer") but I know that can't be right.

Anyways, we did listen to secular music as children... just not very much. That tape pretty much made it up till I turned sixteen and Dad started listening to country music in the car. I thought country music the greatest thing ever. That is, until I moved out here and discovered Bryan Adams and Sheryl Crow and Lifehouse and all their friends.

Now, I have a fairly eclectic taste in music--I like some of almost anything but girl hip-hop and free jazz. But people will still talk about bands like INXS and I'll say "I don't know any of their songs." Oh well. Worse things could be said about a person.


Good Question

“What are the five books that have influenced you the most?”

This question showed up in a book at work the other day, offering itself irresistibly among the text. Here’s my answer, straight from the soul of one card-carrying bookworm. I’d be absolutely delighted if any of you want to leave your answers in the comments section, or post it on your own blog and let me know.

1. The Bible. I considered stating this as a given and moving on, because it’s such a textbook Sunday-school answer for a good Christian girl. The fact remains, however, that even if I had never chosen to believe it, its words would still today be embedded into my soul. It hasn’t simply influenced me; it has defined me. Favorite quote, one among many: “Be still (or as the NASB puts it,
‘cease striving’) and know that I am God.”

2. Wild at Heart. I know, I know… shouldn’t I be saying “Captivating” (the one that was written for girls?) No. For several reasons; most basically that I read Wild at Heart first, and at the first time in my life that I was ever ready to comprehend its underlying truths—those referring to what God meant humankind to be, and what really went wrong with our hearts. Yes, it transformed the way I see the hearts and actions of men, giving me a new appreciation and respect for things I hadn’t before understood. But it absolutely revolutionized me as a woman and a Christian. Favorite quote (from the chapter on Eve, which I’ve read at least ten times): “A woman living out her true design will be valiant, vulnerable, and scandalous.”

3. Harry Potter. I can’t pick out one book here; the whole series will have to do. Dumbledore’s compassionate heart and rich, unique wisdom, Harry’s love and bravery, Luna’s peace, Fred and George’s love of fun, Hermione and Ginny’s tough individuality and steadfast support, and Ron’s bumbling but deeply devoted loyalty speak libraries of truth to me. That’s not even mentioning characters like Sirius, Lupin, Tonks, Neville, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Moody, McGonagall, Hagrid, or the gone-but-not-forgotten James and Lily Potter. I’ve learned more about courage, faith and love from those books than most of the “Christian” novels I’ve ever read. Make of that what you will. Favorite quote, Dumbledore to Harry in book 5: “In the end it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.”

4. No Compromise: The life story of Keith Green. My parents didn’t let me listen to secular music growing up. On the other hand, most of what passed for music among the Christian crowd in my early years was about as well written as something sung by Gwen Stefani, only with a thoroughly moral message and no cool beat. So we listened to Keith Green. Even today, I can’t listen to an old Keith Green record without hearing his passion for God throbbing in his voice. That passion defined his life, which is why I love the book—that, and I think God cut my soul out of the same piece of cloth as that of Keith’s wife, Melody. She wrote the book. Favorite quote… well, without having the book here to flip through, I’ll have to go with a line from one of their songs:
“Make my life a prayer to you, I wanna do what you want me to/ No empty words and no white lies, no token prayers, no compromise.”

5. Fifth place gets split between C.S. Lewis’s “That Hideous Strength” and Nicholas Sparks’ “A Walk To Remember,” both books having had the advantage of protagonists with whom I sympathized at every moment. Neither Mark nor Jane Studdock, from the former, said or thought or did much of anything that part of me didn’t think I would have done in their case; I grew as they grew. And Sparks’ Jamie Sullivan was my hero, everything I wanted to be—well, except for the dying part. Dowdy and a social zero among her peers—just like me in my teens and early twenties (at least, whenever I dared venture outside the homeschool community)—she had a quiet confidence that has helped me find my own. Favorite quotes, first from "That Hideous Strength": “…To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness.” From "A Walk To Remember": “Jamie also taught me the value of forgiveness and the transforming power that it offers… Jamie held no grudges. Jamie led her life the way the Bible taught.”

Your turn! After all, I just finished a good book... time for some new reading material.

Remembering God

That pirate that I spend so much time with recently lent me a book called “I’m the Legend of the Son of Man.” That book made me cry today.

The book, a privately published novel, tells the life story of Jesus in first person. It actually sticks pretty closely to the events chronicled in the Gospels, although it naturally adds quite a bit as it describes Jesus’ growing years and daily life.

It does have one premise with which I disagree, mostly because of Jesus’ statement in John 8:58— “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”: the idea that Jesus operated as much on sheer faith as we do. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that He never doubted or questioned who He really was. But it did raise to me this interesting question: How omniscient was he when he lived down here? When he predicted Peter’s denial, was that a prophetic revealing to him by the Spirit at that time? Or did he know as he walked the earth, for Peter as well as David and the rest of us, “the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them”? (Psalm 139:16). Hmmm.

But that isn’t what made me cry.

After meandering through the first two-thirds of the book over several weeks of work lunch-breaks, today I took a blanket and a Coke out on my little back deck and, while attempting to sunburn my legs, finished the book.

There’s another part of my story that needs filling in here before I go on: In the summer of 2003 I fell in love with God in dazzling, incredible new ways. “You ride on wind, and you hide in darkness,” I wrote him. “You’re an adventure wherever we go…” I titled the song “Endless Glory” and have sung it in church.

And I thought, with absolutely no intention of being arrogant, that I finally loved God in such a way as could not be shaken.

Then, of course, in 2004 and 2005, the three main pillars that had built up my faith in that one blessed year imploded rather dramatically. I got shaken, all right—rattled loose in the central chambers of my being—and spent several months in an emotional hell that became physical in its destructive heat; a form of suffering that I never, ever want to face again.

Since December of 2004, much of my experience in faith and love for God has been blind determination and stirrings of an ache for the passion, joy and hope I’d lost and wondered if it were even possible to regain.

Somehow, in the last chapter of that book, Jonathan Cring managed to infuse some of that resurrective joy into his words.

I read through the final page, closed the book, and welcomed the tears because they poured out of a tenderness toward God and a hope in heaven that I haven’t felt in a year and a half.

I don’t know why you wanted me to read that book, Brandon, you can tell me one of these days… but thanks.

Sometimes I write songs out of life’s experiences. Other times, I write and then proceed to live out the lines (not on purpose, but it happens!) This song was both.

“You keep me asking and you keep me guessing
You’re a mystery that plays with my mind
You leave me so blessed, and then you leave me helpless
You’re surprising me all of the time
And you make me angry, hurting me on purpose
And then you show me what love really means

You’re my God, you’re my deepest story
You’re everything that I was made for
Loving you is an endless glory
I’m forever wanting more”