Incomplete Idiot

"I've heard someone say that our problems aren't the problem; it's our solutions that are the problem. That tends to be one thing that goes wrong for me — my solutions." - Anne Lamott

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am currently the Logistics Coordinator for MCYM/Club Beyond Europe (my missions agency is Young Life, just to be confusing). :0) I have traveled to many parts of this world, but I'm not as well-traveled as I would like to be some day. I have had more jobs than I can count, and my list of interests grows everyday. I take seriously Paul's urging to be "all things to all people". Mostly, I am interested in being a friend to all the folks I have been blessed to meet, because I am discovering (slowly) that it is not all about me.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Information on Partnering with me in ministry



Ways to Give:
  • ›  Go to giving.younglife.org
  • ›   Log in (or “Create an Account” for first-timers).
  • ›  Click “Give a Gift.”
  • ›  Click on “Search” 
  • ›  Click on “Search by Area Number.” in the pop-up box›  
  • Enter Area # XR109 and click “GO.”
  • When you see “Military XR 109 - International Region click “Submit.”
  • Skip the box that says "Special Designations"
  • ›  Please type my name in the optional “Sponsoring” box — Jennifer Maslyn.
  • ›  Skip down to “Gift Amount” and type in the amount you'd like to pledge.
  • ›  Check the box to “Make this a recurring gift,” if it is your intention to give monthly. 
  • ›  Finally, Click “Add a Gift" and follow the instructions regarding your financial institution. (EFTs, Electronic Funds Transfers are preferred, as Credit Cards expire and carry a service fee) 


I can make myself available to you by phone or SKYPE to assist you with this process, if needed.  Please email me or send me a Facebook message to set up a time.  Email: jennifer.maslyn@gmail.com Facebook: Jenn Maslyn

Also, you can call Young Life directly and ask for someone in "Income Processing" to help you.  Here's their phone number: 719-381-1985
OR:
Personal checks may be made out to Young Life and sent to Jenn Maslyn
3947 Old Petersburg Road  Martinez, Georgia  30907
My mom will send them on to Young Life with a special information sheet. Young Life will then send you envelopes and information on how to send any further checks directly to YL's Service Center. This just ensures that the checks go to the correct person's account, instead of to Young Life in general. 

Thanks go out to my mom for being willing and reliable to handle this part of the process so that mail doesn't have to come all the way to Germany, first.  :0)

***All gifts are tax deductible. *** 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Matching Donation - Double Your Investment in Military Teens

Dear Friends and Family,

August 21st, I got the amazing news that a donor is offering a matching fund  for one-time, annual, and monthly gifts  started between now and October 1st, up to the $25,000 match amount!  Amazing!

Here's how this works:  The matching donation is for $25,000.  Basically a one-time gift will double.  For example,  a $500 one time gift matched would equal $1,000.

Any new annual donor that will make a three year pledge will triple in size, meaning a yearly $500 donor for the next three years is $1,500 plus the match of $1,500 giving a total of $3,000.  Or if a monthly donor commits to $50 a month that is $600 a year or $1800 over a three year period plus the matching gift of $1800 equaling $3600.  This makes it possible to sustain this support over the five year commitment I've made to MCYM, not just for one year at a time, if that makes sense. 


If you are already a partner, thank you! I could not have gotten this close without you!  These matching funds would not add to gifts already pledged, but they would apply to any new gifts or additional amounts you might add to a pledge.  

Currently, I'm approximately 86%  funded or 14%; away from getting to work serving military teenagers in Germany.  1% of my budget = $40.00 a month, to give you a better idea of the need.  Please see the post below this one for complete info and instructions (or click on the word "instructions" in this sentence) on how you might partner financially to this ministry on my team. 

I'd love to come talk to you personally, over the phone, or by Skype - in fact, I really do LOVE talking about this ministry I'll be doing and the kids it serves so well.  I may not have your phone number, or I may be just chicken to call because it's been so long since I've seen you. 

Please call or email me, if you feel you would like to hear from me, or if you know of anyone who might feel called to partner with me.  Here's my info:  970-281-9696 or jennifer.maslyn@gmail.com 

I'd like to be fully funded by the beginning of September and over in Germany by the beginning of October. (It takes some time to get everything situated with shipping, flying, saying "see you laters", etc.)  

Thank you for reading and for praying with me!

God's Grace and Peace be with you, 
Jenn

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Next Adventure...and How You Can Be a Part of It!




Stroll with me down memory lane a bit … recalling hormones, zits, rejection, cliques, boredom, knowing everything and nothing at the same time, and figuring out relationships with friends and the opposite sex. These are all part and parcel of being a teenager no matter who you are or where you’re from. Now, try to imagine the additional hardship of having either dad or mom or both, being deployed to a war zone not knowing where they really are or when they are likely to be back, moving from base to base around the country and around the world, having to deal with the extended absence of one or both parents and then having to figure out how life works when they come back from far away, watching friends move away or moving away from friends, and having to figure out how to deal with increasing instability in life ... then you will have some inkling of what it is like to be a military brat (an affectionate term).

MCYM (Military Community Youth Ministries) is one of only two international organizations that fill the gap for these teens. Young Life and Youth for Christ partner together to form MCYM and contract with the American military through the chaplaincy to provide quality youth ministry for our military teenagers domestically and internationally. I have the opportunity to return to Germany with MCYM. Like the servant in Luke 14, I want to encourage you to come to see what God is doing in the lives of military teens and invite you to the feast! I served in Wurzburg, Germany from 1996 to 1999 with MCYM as an Associate Community Director working with American military teens and their families. At that time, I worked directly with middle and high school aged students and shared with them that a relationship with Christ is possible. It was such a privilege to work with these young adults, as they are so often overlooked as a people group who need to hear about and experience a loving God in the person of Jesus Christ.

This new opportunity will take me back to Germany, this time to Heidelberg, to be a part of the Service Center staff to serve as Events and Logistics Director. While I will miss working directly with kids, I will seek to set up staff, leaders, and kids to have amazing encounters with Jesus Christ by organizing outreach camps, service projects, discipleship opportunities, and leadership times. I covet your prayers for this new ministry God is orchestrating, and I want you to carefully consider being a part of what is going on with these amazingly resilient teenagers by becoming a part of their community in this vital mission field.

At the end of this blog, you will find detailed instructions on how to donate. But, I don’t just want you to donate to my account or pray for the ministry I’ll have overseas. I really want you to be in on this whole thing! I’m looking for a community of supporters who will give because you know that giving is actually better than receiving and that by giving you will receive the joy of that gift. I also fully expect this community to be the folks I lean on to show Christ’s love when life and ministry gets tough, gets chaotic, and gets lonely. And, I fully expect to reciprocate that connection when your life gets tough, gets chaotic, and gets lonely. I want you to share in the joy of all successes great and small. I can do this only with help from Christ and the generous hearts and hands of friends. Thanks for taking the time to read over this and considering how you will want to be a part of it.

God’s Grace and Peace to you,

Jenn
Budget Breakdown
› 12 month total = $67,727
Good News -Military Contract will provide
$1,500/month = $18,000/year and a 3 to 5 year commitment

What’s left to raise yearly
› $49,727 per year or $4,144/month


One Time Expenses for Start Up Costs
› Vehicle (once in Germany) = $6,000
› Deployment (shipping household items, etc.) = $6,504
› Travel to Germany = $1,250
› Language acquisition = $180
› Equipment = $120

Total one-time expenses = $14,054

Summary:
$49,727/year or $4,144/month
$14,054/one-time expenses

Ways to Give:
Go to
https://giving.younglife.org
› Log in (or “Create an Account” for first-timers).
› Click “Give a Gift.”
› Click on “Search” by “A Young Life Area Ministry.”
› Click on “Search by Area Number.”
› Enter Area # XR109 and click “GO.”
› When you see “Military XR 109 - International Region click “Submit.”
› Please type my name in the optional “Sponsoring” box — Jennifer Maslyn.
› Skip down to “Gift Amount” and type in your pledged amount.
› Check the box to “Make this a recurring gift,” if it is your intention to
give monthly.
› Click “Add a Gift” and follow the instructions for putting in your giving information. 

(EFTs or Electronic Funds Transfers are preferred)

OR:
Personal checks may be made out to Young Life and sent to


Jenn Maslyn
3947 Old Petersburg Road  Martinez, GA 30907
(After the first check, your donation will be directed to Young Life’s Service Center).
***All gifts are tax deductible. ***

Monday, March 23, 2009

Voices

I hear voices. What I mean to say is that there are voices of people that I know or have known that run through my brain with astonishing regularity. Not all the voices are good ones, but one of the best comes from the gentle yet forceful baritone of Brennan Manning. What he may lack in physical stature, he more than makes up for in the sheer power of his voice and words. Years ago, in college, I attended a weekend retreat led by Brennan, and I can truly say that his words and voice have followed me ever since. It helps that I bought a set of tapes recorded at a retreat with a similar theme, which I played constantly for about a year, wearing out my car audio system. I felt like I could reach out and physically touch his relationship with Jesus. His words and experiences made me desire that same kind of intensity, and I really felt that I was as close to God as I have ever been. Most of my years in ministry were still ahead of me at that point, and, yet, I don’t feel I’ve ever gotten that close again. It is an ache which I have dulled with a sense of duty, moral agenda, and the desire to be accepted by others. I sell that relationship, that primary source, short for the temporary accolades of worldly friends and thereby become the harlot once again, in desperate need for the very love that I have traded away for what amounts to so many trinkets and shiny junk.
On a six month retreat in the Zaragosa desert in Spain, Brennan Manning heard God’s voice say to him on a mid-winter’s night: "For love of you I left my Father's side. I came to you who ran from me, who fled me, who did not want to hear my name. For love of you I was covered with spit, punched and beaten, and fixed to the wood of the cross." Brennan would later reflect, "Those words are burned into my life. That night, I learned what a wise old Franciscan told me the day I joined the Order -- 'Once you come to know the love of Jesus Christ, nothing else in the world will seem as beautiful or desirable.' " You would have to hear him say those words aloud to get the full impact, but as true as I believe those words are, I still manage to walk away, to flee from Him, who loves me that much. Some other words of Brennan’s which have had great impact on me are these: “God expects more failure from you than you expect from yourself.” At first glance or listen, these don’t seem like encouraging words. But, oh, they are! They are! It might seem terrible that God expects us to fail, or that acceptance of those words might lead to a too great appropriation of grace, but the way I hear them I hear God’s gentleness in assuring me that there is nothing that I can do that will tear me from the palm of His hand. There’s nothing I can do or say that will cause Him to hate me as much as I sometimes hate myself. More words from Brennan say, “If you knew me, the real me, you’d be as disgusted with me as I am!” I get so tired from a life of striving to be what everyone else wants me to be, what I want to be that I lose sight of Christ and all the promises his calling brings. Joe Novenson (a recent addition to the voices) described the gap between my condition and my calling as something that will only become more evident to me the closer and longer I walk with God. I believe this to be true. I probably err on the side of focusing too hard on the depths of my depravity than on the higher calling God wants for me. I pray that will change now and over time. I thank God for the voices in my head, at least some of them.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Centering


I'm reading a book about architecture (yeah, I know) called Brunelleschi's Dome. It's about the guy who basically reinvented everything folks knew about architecture in the middle ages and completely baffled everyone in the process. The thing is, he wasn't even an architect, he was a goldsmith. The Dome the title is referring to is the dome of a church in Florence, Italy called Santa Maria del Fiore, or, as it is most commonly referred to as the Doumo, or THE DOME. I have seen this wondrous piece of history up close, and it is impressive to understate that quite a bit.

Of course, being a word person and an English teacher, I am almost required to see more than meets the eye and to look deeper into the metaphors of things. Being mathematically challenged, I have had some difficulty understanding all the ins and outs of the explanations about the building of this dome. But, I do have the basic gist of the extraordinary feat of having built this dome (still the largest of its kind in the world) without using wooden structures known as "centering". These wooden structures would have seemed to be necessary to hold the stone, bricks, mortar, and plaster together while the dome was being built (which took a couple of decades) so that it would not come tumbling down in the center. The only other method of holding domes in place really used much at the time was flying buttresses (it's just fun to say those words together), like those used on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Filippo Brunelleschi found a way of using chains of stone and wood and bricks to hold the dome (actually two, with an inner and outer shell) together without falling into itself.

So, where's the metaphor? Hold your horses, it's coming. At times, I feel like that dome, or at least like those who worked on the dome that thought it was all just a matter of time before it all comes crashing down on me because there is no support, no centering. As Yeats so aptly said, “the center cannot hold”. There was nothing visibly holding it up there in the air! How scary that must have been. Basically there was just this giant hole in middle with curved walls being built slowly with some amazing, but certainly sketchy-looking, platforms holding the stonemasons up in the midst of it all. No centering. Sometimes it’s like that, life that is. It feels like there’s no middle, no structure, no safety, no security blanket to hold on to. 70 million pounds of stone and bricks and such and nothing much holding it in place. But, there’s always a but, Filippo knew something no one else knew. He knew that within the complex structure (sorry, that’s all you’re going to get on the engineering from this source) there actually was a centering. Somehow all the stone “chains” and funky masonry created circles that worked with and against the forces of gravity that should have brought the dome crashing down. Filippo was the only one though who knew for sure the foundation was there. The others who worked on and funded the project had to take it on faith that they weren’t depending on the word of a crazy man.


The Christian walk is much like that dome. It all revolves around a “center” that we cannot see with our human eyes. Jesus wasn’t crazy, and we can still take him at his word, even though we can’t see exactly what he’s talking about. He is the centering for this world and for each individual. The wood of the cross has long since deteriorated, but it is still holding up for us the mighty spectacle of faith, grace, and mercy that can only be found in its invisible and expansive shadow.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Community Work

Community is resurfacing again as a buzzword in Christian circles. (I guess we Christians got tired of Mormons and Jehovah's Witness' doing our job for us.) It seems to me a few years ago community was talked about a bunch, but its popularity went the way of so many religious fads. With no concrete works to go along with our belief that community was the way to go, away it went. Community has one enormous hurdle to get over, human selfishness. We want to live the way we want to and we don't want anyone else to comment on the way we live. My own particular brand of selfishness that precludes intimate community includes not wanting my faults to be known. I don't want people to realize that my number one concern most of the time is me, not the thousand and one commitments I've made in one week, or the people who expect the "always true, always loyal, always neurotically on-time Jenn" to fulfill those commitments. I over-commit, try to be true and loyal and on-time because I feel that gives me some kind of saint-ish clout with friends and God himself. I don't want people to realize the amount of time I spend being incredibly insecure. If people only knew that, they would be as disgusted with me as I am. BUT, and this is a big but, isn't that what community is supposed to be? I don't believe for a minute that community is this safe, pretty existence where Christians live and sing in perfect harmony, like some hokey Coke commercial. If we really and truly want community with one another and the unbelieving world around us, we have to be willing to see and hear and get messy with those things we would rather not let anyone see, hear, and get messy with in our lives. "One anothering" requires a solid commitment to the mess in each other's lives. If there aren't people in my life who will confront me with my faults and be equally willing to show me theirs for me to confront, then we both are severely hindered in our attempts to walk with the one who came down to get as messy as a body could possibly get to save us from our sin and a life that is meaningless without him. At its best, community is messy. At its worst, community is non-existent, when we withhold our junky messes from each other. Community is so much more than sharing space and resources, it is treating others as better than ourselves. Sometimes, treating people better involves doing what is best for them, even when it causes them pain. Admittedly, I am terrible at this. I would rather swim with live eels than tell someone I love and respect that they are not doing things right, even when I know there is no one else to tell them. The times of greatest growth for me have always involved an uncovering of sin in my life that I couldn't (or wasn't willing to) see, by someone who was willing to wade into my reluctance and anger and denial of it.

A missionary in "harm's way" shared at my church's recent mission conference that he didn't serve God, in fact, he didn't even have a ministry. He held out for some time before exclaiming that God serves him. And as hard as that is to hear with my American "rugged individualist" ears, it is true. God serves us. He did all the work and came down to forgive my sin (and yours) and he even exclaimed that he did not come to be served but to serve. So, why is it so hard for me to believe it? Why is it so difficult to read what is clearly written in scripture and believe it to be true? A common bible study question seems to be "If you could believe the truth that God loves you and died to be with you, how could believing this truth change your life?" That question, in its various forms, always blows me away. IF I could believe it, if I could REALLY make it past the surface of that truth, everything would change. The trouble is getting past my seemingly endless supply of insecurity. I know my free will would be greatly hampered by God simply performing a kind of faith lobotomy procedure in my brain, but I think I would welcome it. God is tricky in how he wants us to want to believe him. My conclusion, at this point, is that I really can't come to the conclusion that God loves me all on my own. I need others to help point out God's faithfulness and love to me. In turn, I must be willing to do the same for those God has put in my path and in community with me. Another thing I can't seem to believe is that God wants us to live isolated in our own little introspective worlds to the point that we can't see beyond our own peevish, dare I say the word, issues. My increasing realization is that this world is not all about me; I am no longer my own. "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." If that statement is true (head belief and heart belief are two different things), I can no longer claim my "rights" to my time, my energy level, my income, my gifts, and even my failures. I claim that Christ has won my heart, and the winner takes all. The only way for me to recognize Christ in me and in the others around me is to commit to one another to point Him out when we see Him.

The fact that my God serves me strikes me as an excellent reason not to be self-centered. Christ gave up his position and his place in order to serve me through his life and through his death, and ultimately, through his resurrection. One way of getting out of my own neurotic, insecure way is to emulate Christ's selflessness among others. I long to live in community, loving, selfless community without the hip, buzzword, 70's Coke commercial meaning that goes along with that. I really do long to be sharpened against the iron of community. It can't always feel good to go through that kind of sharpening, but I have the feeling it would be well worth the benefits.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Slack, slacker, slackest



I know, I know I've been remiss in my blogging duties. I could make the excuse that I now have a dog to take care of, and that is exactly what I'm going to do!

Emma, my dog, is a bundle of high energy and quite the clown. I really think she knows when she is "on" and performs for her audience, made up of mostly me. From getting her head stuck through the flying squirrel toy (no I did not stage that photo) to doing summersaults on her way to or from a frisbee or ball, she is always making me laugh. Perhaps the funniest moment came recently on a car trip. Most of the time I keep her safely in a traveling crate for the in-town, stop-and-go driving, but this was a longer trip, so I decided to let her roam freely about the cabin with a barrier to the front seats (I'm not that stupid). For the first time, Emma was able to stick her nose out the window a bit. At first, the wind kind of gently lifted her jowls a little, but then she realized that if she opened her mouth at just the right angle, whoomf!, her whole face expanded like a parachute in descent. I thought I would have to pull over from laughing so hard. Unfortunately, no one saw this but me. She repeated this feat several times before moving on to other things. She is aware of that comic timing that says when to stop before the joke wears out.


I have learned so much from dog, dare I say "ownership", I think it's more like "companionship", but I do all the grunt work and pay all the bills. I've begun to learn what must be something parents realize quickly, as well. When my dog is at her very worst, I still love her and want to do nice things for her. It must be something akin to what God does for us, only on a much smaller scale. Just when I think I've hit my limit of holes to fill in the back yard or socks to throw out because they've made their way through some part of her digestive system, she does some silly and incredibly cute thing that makes me laugh or smile so much so that I just can't help myself, and I restrain from beating the living daylights out of her.
Being a new "mom", I'm afraid I'll run the risk of boring anyone who is still reading this blog with stories about Emma, but that is a chance I'll just have to take. I have much more to catch up on, but I'll stop here and simply post something for once!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dog Days of Summer


Sometimes sayings are just sayings, and sometimes they are only too true! Yes, I finally broke down and got a dog! Not a realm to be entered lightly for the commitment-phobic, I might add. The timing for summer break seemed like the best time to attempt things like crate-training, house-training, leash-training, obedience-training – sounds like a lot of training doesn’t it? My now 12+ pound German Shorthaired Pointer puppy, Emma, is quickly putting me through the paces of pseudo-motherhood. Amber, I have no idea how you and the other moms I know do it! So, if you want to know what I’ll be up to this summer, just check out any number of dog training manuals, and you’ll get the gist of what’s up here!

Isn’t she cute?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dead Birds




Dead birds is the metaphor used in an article I read this week in a Bible study I'm involved with. The author used the experience of arriving at a retreat expecting beautiful mountain views to refresh her soul, only to be greeted by the unwelcome presence of a dead bird in the foreground of her desired vista. She contemplated how to rid herself of this undesirable visitor, but soon realized that taking three steps back from the window afforded her a birdless view of said beautiful mountains. She likened the dead bird to all the things that are painful to acknowledge in her life which are caused by either her own sin or the sins of others against her.

Sometimes I think there are so many “dead birds” in my life that I can never get past them or hide them from my view. Pain is something that I’ve come to realize is the defining characteristic of this life. If I’ve successfully avoided pain on some level, I’m happy. If pain could not be avoided, I am distressed or depressed. “Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who tells you different is selling something!” Or, so goes the familiar quotation from The Princess Bride. I manage the pain in my life best when I face it head on and let the effects take their course. Of course, I need to be deeply rooted in God and his Word when that happens without experiencing a complete annihilation of my worth and will to live.

Bebo used to sing a song called, “Through”, and I don’t know if he still does, but its theme was that you can’t get over, around, or under pain; you have to go through it. I think the most profound question Jesus ever asked was to the man at the pool in Bethesada, “Do you want to get well?” Sometimes I don’t. Well, at least, I don’t want to have to do what it really takes to get there. I don’t want to go through the pain. Sometimes I just want to complain about the pain and receive the sympathy of others. Sometimes I think God really has gone and done it this time and given me more than I can handle. Sometimes I get discouraged at having to seemingly go through the same pain over and over again, and I just don’t want to look at it anymore. “I haven’t got time for the pain” as Carly Simon so aptly puts it. Pain slows me down. Emotional pain paralyzes me. If I can’t see it, it’s not there.

It makes a weird kind of sense that pain reveals sin. Pain is sin’s sign in the world. Where there is pain, there is sin. If only it didn’t hurt so much, we could see the sin for what it really is! I avoid pain by avoiding my family (I got pretty good at that – I almost made it 20 years), friends, colleagues, tanning booths, relationships. I do that because I don’t want to acknowledge that I have sinned or been sinned against.

I don’t want to be dependent…on God or anyone else. Ironically, it is when I grow dependent upon anything besides God that pain is most prevalent in my life. I do “hate my life in this world”, but not enough, apparently, to die to it and “bear much fruit” in the process (John 12:24-25).

Another irony involving pain is worth mentioning here. It is when I experience pain and am going “through” it and managing to involve God in that process that I feel most alive, vital, and worthy. Not unlike soldiers in the heat of battle (let me make no mistake; it is a battle), I truly live in those moments. If only they weren’t to tiring…

Saturday, April 21, 2007

90% Mental



U2's song "Running to Stand Still" almost nails this topic for me. Not the part about the drug usage, but the idea that running and striving in our own strength is rather pointless and only causes us to return to where we started in the first place. Amidst the barrage of disappointments and chaos that life throws me (and all of us, in turn), there is that glimpse of what it would be like if I could just rest in the eye of the storm. Seeing my chance, Hope springs eternal once more, and I jump at the chance to fulfill that longing by trying harder to achieve it. Funny how that's not how to make things happen.

I recently became a runner (for those who know me and haven't seen me in a while, you can stop laughing now). I had always heard that running was 90% mental and only 10% effort (actually, people seem to say that about just about everything). Now, I must say that in the beginning I considered that the biggest lie I had ever been told, but now, now I am beginning to understand what they mean. The "runner's high" is described as the feeling one gets once a certain distance is traveled and when the goal is reached the runner feels as if they could just keep going. It is no longer a matter of physical exertion. (This was another running myth in my book.) I figured out that if I wanted to start running, I had to do just that, start. There really isn't any other way around it. But, if I wanted to keep running, I had to get to that mental place where it was really not me doing it. Before I get accused of new-age weirdness or a drug-induced high instead of the aforementioned "runner's high", I should explain. The Philippians verse goes,"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", right? I took that verse and turned it around to emphasize what I had been missing in that short statement for years. I understand it better when I think, "Christ and His strength can do anything He wants in me, if I let Him". If Christ is giving all the effort for my benefit already, I will just get in His way by running and striving for the same exact thing.

I'm running these days less for what running does for me physically and more for what it does for me mentally. I can sit home all day "resting" and never have one clear thought outside my own pitiful existence, but when I run, I more easily turn my thoughts to the one who wants to do all things through me and towards the others that He places in my path. I'm not promoting running as much as I'm trying to convey that doing something that gets me outside of myself and forces me to rely on strength that is not my own is incredibly hopeful for me. I am no longer running to simply stand still. I am running (literally and metaphorically) to let Christ's strength be displayed in my life. At least, that's what happens on the good days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

12, 703





I guess I've been feeling a bit cannibalistic lately...I'm going to steal a bit of thunder from my friend Julie's blog to let you in on how the Cooper River Bridge Run went this year. I'm a little put off by the fact that Julie and I finished at exactly the same chip time, and yet I placed three whole slots behind her in the standings. This same phenomena happened when I finished the Kiawah 1/2 Marathon with my friend Veronica in December - what is the deal? I guess I can find consolation in that "the first shall be last". The race day conditions could not have been better. No wind, no blazing sun, 74 degrees, and no strollers all combined to give this year's race a much more pleasant feel. In addition to all that pleasantness, I also managed to train for this one! (Kristin, I'm just sorry I couldn't have lessened the blow to your running reputation with a similar time last year:)).

I'm currently attempting to find motivation to train for the Nashville Country Music 1/2 Marathon coming up April 28th. Part of my motivation now is that I recently lost my Uncle/Godfather George and a good friend, Dennis, from Colorado to cancer. I am raising money for The American Cancer Society for the race and will donate any proceeds in their memory. I did get to see my uncle at his home in New Jersey the Thursday before he died. While it was sad, it was good to be there and to be with my aunt and cousins as well. On a strange note, today I received a birthday card from Dennis' wife, Jeanne, written two days before Dennis passed away. Both Dennis and Jeanne were bright lights during my time in Colorado. I know Dennis will be greatly missed. I would covet your prayers for both my friends in Colorado and my family.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beauty is only...



I saw this video on a friend's blog, so I stole it to post here. Another friend said she had seen it previously and thought it was good, but that Dove, the sponsor of this self-esteem film series, still markets stuff that will, supposedly, make you more beautiful, youthful, desirable, etc. Beauty. What a snow job the world has done on everyone concerning that. I admire Dove for even trying, granting that they've got to make a buck somehow. The same friend who had seen the film asked me if I struggle with the beauty myth. Of course I do. I think I struggle the most with it when I percieve that some folks just don't get that most of what passes for beauty today is a complete farce (as this video clearly points out). Having a background in Journalism helps me, I think, at least to understand the amount of spin any given topic is subjected to in order to get the public to "buy it", figuratively or literally. But, even knowing all that goes into the pre-packaged beauty business doesn't keep me from buying into it to some degree. The sad truth seems to be that one needs a certain amount of, accepted as a cultural norm, beauty to be attractive to people (all people,not just the ones we want to date, marry, etc). I, for one, am hoping that things like this video can help me step outside of my self and culturally designated "beauty zone" and look for the real deal, beauty in all of its many forms.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Expectations: God is Weird



Time alone. Sounds good…peaceful…thought-provoking…terrifying. I recently committed to spending some planned alone time. My purpose for doing so was to pray and think while, I hoped, it was God’s job to provide some inspiration during my sabbatical from the rest of the world. I arrived at my somewhat secluded get-away spot with my Bible, a guitar, a book, a notebook a toothbrush, my mosquito netting (because one can never be too careful or prepared; I was a “Brownie” once, before I got kicked out) and my expectations. I was tired from the work-a-day week and unsure what the next however many hours would hold for me. It is difficult not to place expectations on a time like that. Expectations, whether I want them to or not, just seem to run amok in my brain and seem to unfailingly escape the paper cup I try and trap those little buggers with. I mean, I wanted God to speak to me (not audibly, because, let’s face it, that would be a little spooky, especially in a somewhat secluded spot). I wanted him to tell me what to do and how to do it. But, I know that approaching God with all that demanding kind of thing doesn’t usually go over all that well. Although, Jacob would probably have suggested a wrestling match if that was the kind of response I expected.

So, I set about the business of prayer. For me, that took the form of a walk. I seem to pray much better if I am in motion. Prayer is also greatly helped by being in and around a beautiful natural setting. While not entirely necessary, it is nice. When I talk to God, I tend to ask a lot of questions (probably that journalist in me cropping up). Remembering that I’m not expecting an auditory response, I believe that when I seem to start answering my own questions I am hearing from God. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s a good question: “How do you know you’re not just making this stuff up?” I don’t. But, I do think I know when the answer is just too weird or too out of the clear blue for me to have thought of it. I ask some more questions like, “Does this line up with scripture?” or “Does this fit with what I know about God’s character?” If the answer to these types of questions is “yes” then I can be fairly certain that walking in that direction is alright.

My walk proved to be fruitful. By that I don’t mean that I walked away feeling like a spiritual giant, just the opposite really. While praying and asking my questions, I tried really hard to remember what I’m studying in Matthew that the ones who know that they approach God’s presence with nothing of any value that doesn’t belong to God already are the ones who get to see and experience the kingdom of heaven. The ones who mourn their shortcomings and sinfulness will be comforted, and the ones who humble themselves before God are the ones who get to see what God does on Earth and with people. As I juggled those concepts in my mind, trying not to think about how often I fail in all of those areas, God met my expectations in his usual weird way.

Let me just say for the record, God is weird…all the time! Good, too, but weird. I mean weird in the best possible sense. God just refuses to be put into the box (or paper cup) of my expectation. For the most part, the walk and talk were relatively uneventful. No lightning, no fiery columns, no fireworks, no pyrotechnics of any kind (although I think God goes in for that sort of thing, really). The weird part is that, as far as the praying goes, the walk was pretty much the bulk of it for all my time spent in seclusion.

When it was getting dark, I came back to the cabin, sat down, and fell into a pretty deep sleep for about an hour. When I awakened, I got out the guitar and sang and worshipped for a while. (There was one silent moment broken by the sound of the screened door opening outside the door right next to where I was sitting when I thought I was about to be killed by an axe murderer, but when I got up the nerve to leave my catatonic state of staring at the door waiting for my doom to come, I found that it was just the wind that had swung the door open.) Against my self-imposed rule, I took one phone call from a friend in crisis, did a little reading, and then went to sleep (under the protection of God and my mosquito netting).

I woke up rested and somewhat disappointed that wrestling wasn’t part of the deal. I guess my expectation was for more drama, more of the passionate struggle to find out what God wanted from me. I packed up the car and decided to drive for awhile. I prayed and talked some more. I didn’t get the drama, but I did get direction, more of a focus in my prayer, really. The rest of the weekend held bits and pieces of the resolution for the issue which prompted the alone time. It’s not done with, but I’m learning that some things are just never “done”. In his weird way, God met, is meeting, and is exceeding my expectations all at the same time. I told you God is weird.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Crying Lessons


Over the weekend, I went with my niece to see the new film Bridge to Terabithia, which is based on the book of the same name. What a painfully beautiful experience! My roommate had mentioned it was one of her favorite childhood books, and my niece had recently completed reading it, but neither had informed me what it was about (that is the way I prefer it, and I will certainly try not to ruin it for anyone else). I am currently third on the list to receive my niece’s copy of the book.

I had assumed from the previews that I would be watching another fantasy-rich children’s tale about far off lands and dragons, fairies, monsters, and the like. I was right and wrong on that account. (I’ll let would-be watchers figure that out.) It was more a story of the nature of the fallen world and the quest for love. I wept unabashedly during a portion of the film (for those who know me, this takes a bit of doing). Maybe it was just me, or perhaps it was simply my time, but I feel I grew, if even just the tiniest bit, from watching this story. Returning home and to my own thoughts, I remembered a poem by C.S Lewis that speaks of some of the themes of love, loss, and redemption I saw in this story. It is always love that redeems us, isn't it?

As the Ruin Falls


All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love --a scholar's parrot may talk Greek--
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Marmee

Marmee is the name of the mother in Little Women, and the name my paternal grandmother chose for herself when she found herself in a position where she could potentially be called something as old sounding as “Grandma” or, heaven forbid, “Grandmother”. She insisted on Marmee because it reminded her of one of her favorite books, and gave the added benefit of not sounding stuffy and age defining. Her own mother opted for the great-grandchildren to call her “G.G”.

Marmee had five children, with my father being the oldest. The middle spot among the kids was held by my uncle Christopher who was born with Down syndrome. One of the most admirable things about my Marmee was that she never gave in to the popular practice at the time of Chrissy’s birth to put him into an institution. She kept him at home with all the kids and cared for him the best way she knew how. She never treated him like a burden and never wanted people to feel sorry for Christopher. She saw him through all the ups and downs of his disease, and he lived in the midst of his family’s care all of his life until he died shortly after 9-11 at the age of 50. When Chrissy was born he was only expected to live until about 15 years old.

When my mother, father, and older sister needed somewhere to call home, my Marmee gladly took them in and cared for them, too. I came along a bit later, but always felt cared for and loved in her presence. Marmee helped me form my love for literature and writing by conveying her passion for these things and buying books for me and my sister when we were little.

After college, I went to live with Marmee and Christopher, half-heartedly to look for a job in New Jersey, but I really went to get to know a part of my family that I felt I really never got to experience. It was a good time to connect with the Maslyn side of the family and get some perspective on how the family ties were formed.

Marmee lived at home under the care of her children, especially my Aunt Renee, until she was hospitalized and eventually needed hospice care in Renee’s home. She died in her family’s care on January 7th, 2007.


I'm still looking for a specific picture of my Marmee and me to post here, but this is already so far overdue that I'll risk a BBI violation for the future posting of the picture.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hymn

The closing hymn in Sunday morning worship a few Sundays back was “We Are God’s People”. The first line of this hymn states,

We are God's people, the chosen of the Lord,
Born of His Spirit, established by His Word;
Our cornerstone is Christ alone,
And strong in Him we stand:
O let us live transparently
And walk heart to heart and hand in hand.

In spite of the fact that I have a hard time singing hymns without having to find some funky harmony that allows me to stay in a vocal range that neither screeches nor bottoms out into tenor/baritone territory, I find myself enjoying the lyrics more and more. This one particularly spoke to where God has me at the moment. Establishing the precarious balance between the pressures and heartbreaks of this world and desiring a stronger hold on the promises of God’s kingdom can be wearisome, lonesome, and downright confusing. It seems to me that it’s all in these lines somehow. Bryan Jefferey Leech manages to get the whole of Christian life and calling of the church into six short lines. There are, of course, more lyrics, but I feel he could have effectively stopped there. (It doesn’t hurt that the song is sung to Johannes Brahms’ tune, either. It doesn’t necessarily make it more sing-able for me, but it sure is pretty.) I guess, for me, I want the second half of the verse to be true in my life. To live transparently heart to heart and hand in hand with the world doesn’t sound like such a bad thing to want, but, (there’s always a “but”) in order for that to happen, the first half of the verse must be true. I must be born of His Spirit, established by His Word, and trusting in Christ alone, standing strongly in Him before my relationship to the world can be helpful to me or the world. Brennan Manning says that “Love by its nature seeks union”. In light of reading this hymn, I take that to mean that in order for us to be united in relationships with the world, we must first be united in relationship to the giver of the desire for relationships. I’m a slow learner, but someday I hope to get this one right!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Not-So-Secret Identity

After a rough week of loss, familial pressure, self-deprecation, and failure to destroy the idols in my life, I came across these truths about those who have been redeemed and thought I'd share it as a reminder to myself and anyone else who struggles with this sort of stuff. Let's face it; who doesn't struggle with this kind of stuff?

Who I Am In Christ

I am accepted...

John 1:12
I am God's child.

John 15:15
As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1
I have been justified.

1 Corinthians 6:17
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.

1 Corinthians 12:27
I am a member of Christ's body.

Ephesians 1:3-8
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Colossians 1:13-14
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

Colossians 2:9-10
I am complete in Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

I am secure...

Romans 8:1-2
I am free from condemnation.

Romans 8:28
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

Romans 8:31-39
I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.

Colossians 3:1-4
I am hidden with Christ in God.

Philippians 1:6
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.

Philippians 3:20
I am a citizen of heaven.

2 Timothy 1:7
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

1 John 5:18
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

I am significant...

John 15:5
I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.

John 15:16
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

1 Corinthians 3:16
I am God's temple.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21
I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

Ephesians 2:6
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.

Ephesians 2:10
I am God's workmanship.

Ephesians 3:12
I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Year in the Life

In no particular order, here are some scenes and people from the past year. Some are of new friends here in Georgia from work and church, and some are dear friends from Colorado. Clearly, I need to get out more.











Monday, December 25, 2006

1783


1783, while a good year in the history of America, (We signed the Treaty of Paris, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. I looked it up.) was not a date but my spot in line for finishing the Kiawah Island Half Marathon. Did I mention that I finished it? Well, I did. That was really all I was shooting for, so for anyone who really cares what number I placed can … potentially win the lottery by playing the number 1783.

Since July, I have been anticipating this test of endurance. I have lost roughly 20 pounds, gotten in the best shape of my life fitness-wise, and trained for the distance of a half marathon. Why haven’t I mentioned this before you ask? I have no idea, except to say that I wasn’t entirely sure, even up to the last minute, whether I would be able to complete such a daunting task. My body has taken some pretty hard hits over the things I’ve asked it to do over the years, and while there is little I haven’t been able to do, I wasn’t certain my lungs and muscles wouldn’t stage some kind of coup and resort to more or less painful deterrents for me. As it turns out, I was pretty much pain free, with the exception of the typical aches and pains, throughout the training until I got to the long runs of over eight miles or more. Then, my left knee and hip would start gently complaining, then yelling, then screaming for me to give up and stop this nonsense. But to no avail. I did not give in to my body’s sometimes violent attempts to get me to stop.

Kiawah Island is basically a golf resort in the shape of an island just south of Charleston, SC. It is almost entirely flat. Flat is a good thing when it comes to first time marathon running. Flat is my friend. My asthma was thankful for the flatness as well.

The day of the race finally arrived, along with some of the coldest winter weather this year (that is southern winter weather for you northern and Colorado types). The race began at 8am with 30 degrees and 5 to 10 mile an hour winds. But, the sun came out, and while it never really warmed up, it was a beautiful day. I added a thin, fleece hat, gloves, and running tights to my ensemble and hit the road. The first few miles were cold but good. Somewhere around mile 8 my knee and hip started acting up with their, by now, usual banter. I managed to ignore them. I walked through most water stops, because my multi-tasking ability takes a hit when drowning seems probable. I ended up with more Gatorade on my face than in my mouth, even with the walking. I walked for a total of less than a mile by my calculations. Around mile 10, both my asthma and my hip and knees were less than gently chiding me to pay them some attention. I stopped to make use of my inhaler and walked and stretched a bit to appease the hip and knee crybabies. My friend Veronica, whom I had left around mile 3 (by her request), caught up with me around mile 10 and we ran the rest of the way in close proximity. I think her knee and my knee were attempting to commiserate with each other. Around mile 12, our friend April, who had finished the half in under two hours (go April, we will try not to hate you), came running back into the somewhat thinning pack to find us and encourage us to the finish line. She proved herself to be a spectacular improvement to morale. Veronica and I ran through the finish at the same time hearing our names being called out on the loudspeaker! We finished with a chip time of 2:38:45. I had hoped to come in under two and a half hours, but who am I kidding, I just wanted to finish!

For those of you wondering if a full marathon is in the works, I would just like to remind you that the first person to run that far died. I know that while that is not always the case, it does cause one some pause in considering such an endeavor. So for now, I am satisfied with my achievement and may sign up for another half in the near future. I am continuing to run in the meanwhile… I think next time…I will attempt to raise some cash for a good cause to give the running some real purpose other than boosting my ego and feeding my athletic delusions, so stay tuned..





Sunday, November 05, 2006

River Prayer – The Sequel



Unlike Norman McLean, my life has not been haunted by rivers; it’s been more or less stalked by them. For instance, my dream house involves a simple, cozy house or cabin overlooking a river with a wrap-around porch, of course. I have always loved the way rivers take the scenic route most of the time through mountain ravines and forest glades. I have rafted, tubed, canoed, and occasionally fly fished (even though I stink at this) on rivers. I’ve even been canyoning on rivers, and, finally, I believe that I will one day love to kayak on rivers.

I have this notion, some might call it a delusion, that I am a somewhat athletic person. At the very least, this is the image I wish desperately to portray to the world. One sport that I think screams athleticism and utter coolness is kayaking. I think this mainly because it is a sport that involves my favorite body of water and is a sport that requires strength, skill, agility, and a certain gracefulness and daring that other sports sometimes lack. As much as I love baseball or basketball, those sports don’t pose much of a threat of not coming to the end of the game alive. Kayaking has the allure of danger involved in its make up. In white-water kayaks, one must put on a neoprene skirt that attaches the kayaker to the kayak. This is so no water can get inside the boat and sink it. This same skirt is also what keeps the kayaker from falling out of the boat when it turns over. Turning the boat right-side up after turning over is called a “roll” in the kayaking world. Rolling requires all that skill and agility that I was going on about earlier. Rolling also goes against every natural instinct that one’s body has in an effort to survive the very real possibility of drowning in an upside-down kayak.

On a recent excursion with my (extremely athletic) friend Sam, we chose to try some beginning lessons for me in on the Savannah River. We hiked about a quarter of a mile to the put in with all our gear on and carrying our (very cool) boats on our shoulders. Even though I had on the neoprene skirt, which basically looks like a Tim Burton-esque hoop skirt, I knew that all the people we passed on our way to the river would be thinking, “Those girls scream athleticism and utter coolness.” As we hauled our gear, Sam asked if I knew how to “wet exit” the kayak. I said, “No, not really.” She replied simply, “You just take the handle on the skirt and pull it off the boat so you can swim.” “Got it,” I said in my most athletic and cool voice.

Now, the thing no one tells you about kayaking is how incredibly quickly everything happens. The river moves quickly, the boat turns quicker than one would expect, and suddenly, with zero warning, you find yourself upside down in the middle of a rapid desperately trying to reach your lips to the surface and suck in some air but are held tightly in the boat attached to the Burton-esque hoop skirt that is now signaling your eminent death knell. Well, this is what happened to me at least.

Sam, in all her infinite wisdom, somehow knew that if she had told me that is how things were going to go down; I would never have attempted to cross the, probably, class one rapid. After sputtering several times to the surface and gasping for much needed oxygen, I finally kicked my way out of the boat, forgetting entirely the lesson about pulling the handle thingy on the edge of the skirt. I have a sizable bruise to commemorate the kind of wet exit I managed to perform.



Once I surfaced, caught my breath, and was able to get catch up to my paddle and boat, Sam calmly asked if I was ready to learn how to roll, seeing as how I was already wet and all. Without much hesitation I agreed to this plan. She spent the better part of our time patiently teaching me alternate methods of kayaking survival. Although I suspected that she had planned my wet exit all along, I was grateful for the experience. I told her the next day that I thought that I was both too young AND too old for that kind of kayaking. I am too young to die and too old to save my sorry butt from drowning in a class one rapid. I am also, sadly, too stupid to give up that easily, so I will wait for the sequel to my sequel…