Category Archives: Books & Music

Acquired: one ugly wedding gift

An update on our recent happenings, including an explanation of the above title. Enjoy!

what we’ve been doing: This last weekend we spent in somewhat of a wedding frenzy–we started working on registries at Macy’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond (of course, Jason has to have this) and met with the reception hall coordinator to talk details of food, flow, flowers, etc. Last night we met Luke Rutan, our photographer. It was great to get to know him, shoot the breeze for a while, and let him get to know us as a couple. Very easygoing–I think he’ll do a great job. Check out his blog.

Unrelated to our ceremony of matrimony, I spent Sunday afternoon trying to recreate my mom’s great spaghetti sauce, Jason went for a bike ride with Eric Rose, and we finished off the evening with ice cream in the big green chair. A wonderful way to wind down the weekend.

what we’re studying: As I mentioned in a previous post, I am reading When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper. We’re also assigned to read Reforming Marriage (both), The Silence of Adam (Jason) and For Women Only (Elisabeth) for the Biblical Marriage class we started on Sunday at Mars Hill. Jason’s about to finish up The Things They Carried. He’s really enjoyed it and found he can relate some of his experiences in the military with what is depicted in the novel. And I’ve enjoyed him telling me all about it.

what we’re listening to: Jason loves Billy Joel, it reminds him of his high school days. He’s had me listen to “New York State of Mind” and “Just the Way You Are” in the last week. I listened to an AWESOME issue of This American Life entitled “Notes from Camp.” It’s all about the cult-ish following by kids and adults alike of the perfect summer camp experience. The piece on Color Week was both disturbing and hilarious.

what’s new: Our Hebrews study is off to a slow start. We’ve decided to get together two mornings a week before work to work through it together. Also, we got our first officially hideous wedding gift, compliments of Macy’s bridal registry (see photo to the right). We think we’ll probably slam them up against our potential new house to officially christen it when the time comes.

what’s next: Eleni has promised to whip up a potential cupcake ensemble for the wedding. A tasting party will, I’m sure, soon follow after her mad scientist-esque baking escapades. Jason, Sally and I look forward to chocolate, vanilla, lemon and whatever other flavors we’ll get to explore.

Jason has also been diligently working on the job search front, connecting with headhunters this week who seem very eager to work with him to find the right fit. His military experience and his BA in chemical engineering are a major plus. Please pray that he finds a job soon, as he will leave his current position on July 6th. We’d love it if God blessed him with a job before we get married. This would allow us to start looking for a house to settle into as we start our life together.

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The Law vs. Jesus (Jesus wins)

Along with the rest of the staff at Mars Hill, I’ve started reading When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper. One of the drums Piper consistently beats throughout all his writing and preaching is the biblical idea that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

In the first few chapters Piper asks questions along the lines of “How do we get satisfied with God? How do we get to a place where nothing else is more enticing and exciting and beautiful than He is?” It is only by the grace of God. That has been convicting for me because I know my heart’s tendency to try to search for the very satisfaction I desire in Jesus completely outside of and separate from Him. I don’t take His grace! The tricky thing is, those pursuits are sometimes very “Christian” things, like knowing about God (as opposed to knowing God Himself).

This is not a new idea, but it has become increasingly novel to me–that satisfaction in Jesus is about intimate relationship with Him, not about knowledge of Him. A desire to study God will flow out of relationship with Him, not the other way around. Other acts of obedience are the same.

How is that I’ve heard this truth a million times yet I seem to learn it new in every season of my life? In a previous season I studied God’s Word for hours. I couldn’t get enough of it. When I look back I see that this passion came from a time of rich relationship with Him where His presence was felt as so real and near. But it slowly became an intellectual endeavor. People would tell me I was wise beyond my years, so well-read. I was proud.

It turns out that pride isn’t the greatest motivator for continuing on in relationship with and obedience to God. For me, when the desire to study God’s Word started to wane, I felt like I was having an identity crisis. I dug my heels in and lived by the law, trying to get myself to really want to pursue God’s Word, to obey. It didn’t work. I ended up feeling like I had no self-discipline and that I was stupid. Praise Jesus.

Banging my head up against that wall has been the beginning of breaking free from numerous legalisms. Jason has been a wonderful advocate for me. He points out all the “shoulds” and “buts” that spew out of my mouth and asks me “what do you really want?”. That has been terrifying, because what if I find that what I really want isn’t Jesus? If that is the unfortunate case, it needs to get brought out into the light for God to fix in me. It’s easier to live by rules than to walk in faith that God’s grace is there for me. Rules don’t expose my holy desires or my sinful ones. Rules are enticing, but they are so very enslaving.

I read this quote today and found it relevant:

“The human heart lives by its sympathies and affections. In the day that will try every man’s works how much we know will not come in for much consideration. What and whom we have loved will be about all that matters then. For this reason we can never give too great care for the condition of our inner selves.” –A.W. Tozer, The Root of Righteous

This is encouraging because it reminds me that I am not defined by performance. But it is also scary for the very same reason. It seems I can’t dig myself out of my condition. I must trust that God has and that He is and that He will.

Some of the following have influenced my thinking about this lately:

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4)

Religion and Revival (Nehemiah 8:13-18) by Pastor Mark Driscoll

Heart Matters, Part 1 by Pastor Matt Chandler

Redemption song

No, I’m not talking about that Johnny Cash song. Or the Bob Marley one. I was just trying to come up with a clever title for this post. Just read on.

I used to be somewhat of a music snob. It started to become something that defined who I was (aka an idol). At that point, I started listening to music I didn’t even like just to impress people (who, I’m not exactly sure). I wanted to seem, well, snobby. Then I became unemployed (followed by a position as a struggling intern) and didn’t have the money to go to concerts or buy music.

The combination of no money and a-good-thing-into-an-ultimate-thing trend meant I withdrew into self-righteous holiness and intentionally didn’t engage in that part of culture at all (or much of any part of culture). Can you see I tend to swing in extremes? Um, yeah. It’s sad, because music has always been a creative outlet and enjoyment for me and it was being stifled. Yes, it’s true, I’m a stifler.

The pendulum, I think, is swinging back to somewhere in the middle. Praise Jesus. Now that I’m working a staff job at Mars Hill and have some fun money to spend again I’ve been getting back into the music scene. Last night I poked around iTunes doing research and then went down to Easy Street (one of my favorite places EVER) and perused the aisles, my scratch paper in hand. It was beautiful. That, my friends, is redemption.

I came out with some jems. I must admit, I am fearful that some of you out there reading this are thinking, “Oh I’ve been listening to that album for months (or years) now.” That’s because I care what you think. I like to be the first to know about everything. Repentance for me is listening anyway.

So here’s the lineup:

Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s BlockI’m glad this album is awesome and that it just may make it into my top-tier album category. Listening to Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, and Iron & Wine over and over again for the last year and a half is getting a bit old. Like Sufjan, this band has had to grow on me (in part due to my resistance to its popularity), but what I find is the kind of music I am typically drawn to, but with a twist that challenges me to give some new and unfamiliar mixture of sounds a chance.

The Shins – Wincing the Night AwayChutes Too Narrow was wonderful. Oh, Inverted World didn’t do much for me, probably it felt like it took more effort to listen to it. Where does this album fit in? I think somewhere in the middle. It’s upbeat, fun, fresh, and a bit poppy. I appreciate the song “Sea Legs.”

Aqualung – Memory Man – songs from Aqualung’s first album bring back fond memories of my trip to Scotland a few summers ago, so I thought I’d come back for more (and maybe another nostalgic trip down memory lane). The overall sound is somewhere in between David Gray and Coldplay.

Damien Rice – 9Jason and I went to the Damien Rice concert at Benaroya Hall back in April and thought he was fantastic live. At that point, I had been listening to his first album, 0, for several years and found his angst appropriate for the more mellow moments in life. The new music I heard at the concert that I’m now hearing again on his new album sounds almost as sweet to my ears as it did when I heard it live. But, let’s admit it–you can’t beat Benaroya.

Beck – GueroSally and Adelle went wedding dress shopping with me on Sunday and music from this album was cranked up in the car. Doug Finefrock says this is the best Beck album ever and I believe him. You should believe him, too, since I haven’t gotten a chance to really dive into it just yet. All I know is when I listen to “Que’ Onda Guero” it’s got this Beastie Boys vibe I’m diggin’ (minus the abrasive, whiny white-guy rapper voice).

Alright, no more blogging for now. I’ve got music to listen to (and enjoy!).