Would you like to read more than stories of our kids? Visit the other blog.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Small Mr. Stager

Please say a prayer of thanksgiving for the conception of our great friends' son, and then continue to pray for his safe delivery into the world around Valentine's Day.

Good job Andy and Ellie, he's quite a handsome fetus. :) I can't wait to meet him on the outside.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

head over feet

walking feet
Originally uploaded by Devona.
I'm a biped!

Look at me cruise through my bedroom.

I've been walking a few steps here and there for a few weeks, but I found out that you can go a lot faster when you just stand up and go.

I'm carrying my pig mask that Mom bought me for Halloween. I'm going to be Olivia the Pig. That's my favorite book. And now that I'm big enough to walk I can go trick or treating too!

Look at my bruise
Originally uploaded by Devona.
Do you see the big bruise over my left eye? It really hurt when I got it. Mom was washing the dishes and I was playing with the shoes in the hallway. I slipped and I hit my head on the corner of the wall. Mom came running, but I was so sad that I couldn't even cry. It was very hard to take a breath.

Mom tried to put a bag of cold peas on my head, but I didn't like that. So we played a game where she put the peas on my feet then on my belly, and then she put them on her feet and her belly. Then we wore the peas like a hat. That was an ok game, but I suspect that it was all a trick to get the peas on my head.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Female theologian

If anyone has been craving this (like I have), here you go. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Religion of Crafting

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods, instead thou shalt make thine own.

Then thou shalt covet thy neighbor's sewing machine that makes it a lot easier to sew through leather.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The virtue of Authenticity

C.S. Lewis starts out one of his most famous essays (sermons?), The Weight of Glory, with the line:

If you ask twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love.

If we could reenact Lewis' poll today, most would reply that the highest of virtues is Authenticity. Some might call it Being Real. Whatever the name you give it, my generation craves that phantasmic "genuine article."

It makes sense, too. In a world where families, homes, and lives are so fractured, it's no wonder people feel this way. Especially as we continue to perfect our ability to manufacture experiences through technological means, it's no surprise people start craving the real thing. Even more than experiences, we've become masters of manufacturing entire identities, particularly for our youth--the geek, the skater, the punk, the jock, the goth.... even the Christian.

Most of us get worn out from wearing so many costumes. At the end of the day, we find ourselves looking in the mirror and asking "Who am I?" We are all longing for something to ring true, to resonante within ourselves.

Here's one need on which Christianity should be capitalizing, right? When it comes to the True Stories That'll Knock Your Socks Off, we've got the market cornered. God? Became flesh? Died? Come again?

If only it where so simple. A recent episode of the White Horse Inn broadcast impromptu interviews with young adults at a Christian ministry conference. Each was asked which was more important, Unity or Doctrine. At least 75 percent answered Unity. This sentiment is echoed so strongly throughout the church, one could easily make the argument that second only to Authenticity, we crave Unity. And it turns out those two don't play together so well.

It's hard to talk about truth--and how can we judge Authenticity without truth?--without making absolute statements. And absolutes always get you into trouble when you're chasing Unity, because disagreements are bound to surface. People who found themselves unified by common experiences find themselves divided by uncommon doctrine. Trying to be Authentic Unified Christians is tough because Authenticity and Unity tend to smash into one another once Doctrine enters the room. For fear of disagreement, we hesitate to define Truth too particularly.

But it sure is hard to know what it means to be Authentic when we can't even agree on what's true.

Unless, of course, we define Authenticity in individual terms. Rather than making Authentic statements about Christ--since we can't agree on what He's really about--we'll just make Authentic statements about ourselves. One church encourages its visitors: "Come as you are. Go as you want to be." We may not have helped them know Jesus, but hopefully we've helped them get in touch with and find satisfaction in themselves. In our convoluted view, we've given them an authentic experience--they're leaving more true to themselves, we imagine.

When defined in these terms, a certifiably Authentic statement is whatever we feel in the moment--and that means whatever anyone is feeling in the moment. An Authentic confession or creed is one that accurately describes me.

Look around and see all the moments in which we've replaced the confession of Christ with the confession of Self. Our worship songs and prayers emphasize the individual expression and feeling of faith over and above the person and work of Christ. This attitude has taken over our sacramental theology as well: One local church's congregants were encouraged to take communion alone while writing out private confessions and thoughts on sin. No pastor was present to pronounce Christ's absolution. Many modern Christian have been taught a deep-seated mistrust of any prayer, song, or statement that has not been completely personalized. Any word that does not spring spontaneously from the heart cannot be Authentic because it didn't originate with me.

There are obvious problems with our self-centered obsession with Authenticity, and its subsequent addition to the list of Christian virtues. Primarily, we're setting our selves up as the definition of Truth. Sure, in word we attribute Christ with our salvation. But we search for salvation's evidence in the good things we are able to say, feel, or think about ourselves. When our eyes should be fixed on the author and perfector of our faith, we're fixing them on our own clumsy scribblings.

Further, Authenticity in and of itself is no virtue. A serial killer can confess every murder he has ever committed, leave out none of the gory details, and still be proud of the terrible things he has done. He has been Authentic--brutally honest in his explanation of his crimes--and yet still not been meritous. Authenticity has of no value unless it is joined to repentance. And as Christians, when we repent we are forgiven. We need to hear that more often.

The real terror in all this is the difficulty we have in even being true to ourselves, so to speak. When we examine our Authenticity, we find it laced with cracks and fissures, pockmarked by all of our broken promises and white lies. Sometimes, the only Authentic thing we can say is "I have sinned!"

And that must be our message, to ourselves and the world. The most authentic thing we can say to both parties is that we have all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. Forget "Come as you are. Go as you want to be." Let's follow the lead of the Apostles and say, "Come as you are. Go in the peace of Christ."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

No, really. We feed her.

No, really. We feed her.
Originally uploaded by Devona.
Look at those ribs! Yikes! She still only weighs 17lbs. She only gained a half a pound in two months. She's just petite I guess.

In this picture Olivia is responding to the question, "How big is Livi?" The answer of course is, "SOOOOO BIG!"

The girls

The girls
Originally uploaded by Devona.
Or... "the hot babes."

See how Olivia's eyes are my shape and Rob's color (go look at Rob's picture in his profile, you'll see)? It keeps you humble when people compliment her eyes. Now I can't think, "Gee her eyes look like mine, so I must have beautiful eyes too." Our features are twice as striking when mixed together.

Wonderful snuggle

Wonderful snuggle
Originally uploaded by Devona.
I'm sharing some 10 1/2-month-old-Liv pictures.


I'm having a lot of fun listening to this song (I couldn't get a link to the song itself, but go to the Video section and there is a video clip for "Mushaboom"). Her website is a little confusing, so I hope that this works out for you.

It's the perfect song for a young married couple who doesn't have anything but their dreams.

Here's the lyrics:

Helping the kids out of their coats
But wait the babies haven't been born
Unpacking the bags and setting up
And planting lilacs and buttercups

But in the meantime I've got it hard
Second floor living without a yard
It may be years until the day
My dreams will match up with my pay

Old dirt road
Knee deep snow
Watching the fire as we grow old

I got a man to stick it out
And make a home from a rented house
And we'll collect the moments one by one
I guess that's how the future's done

How many acres how much light
Tucked in the woods and out of sight
Talk to the neighbors and tip my cap
On a little road barely on the map

Old dirt road
Knee deep snow
Watching the fire as we grow old
Old dirt road
Rambling rose
Watching the fire as we grow well I'm sold

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Constant Gardener

This was a movie worth seeing in the theater. Even though it cost us $20 for two tickets and popcorn (and we didn't eat the popcorn because we got lost in the film) it was worth every dime.

I'm unable to talk about the plot in any way. I'll give away the whole movie, and then no one will be as excited about it as I am.

Since I am so thrilled about it, and I have so much to say about it, I'm giving you all (especially Kristen and Sarah Hempel) one week to go see it before I ruin it for you with my blog post.

All I have to share with you now is that you'll enjoy the collective uncomfortable silence in the audience at the end.