Chase Fireflies


My Brand of Christianity

Paul and I are attending the National Youth Workers’ Convention in Pittsburgh this year. Yep, just down the road. So far it’s been phenomenal… thought provoking speakers, great dialogues, amazing food (dulcet beem en bop at Sushi Kim’s… ahhhh…), hanging out with our team, and lots of soul searching.

One of last evening’s speakers was a guy by the name of Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. His premise was that the American church is held captive to western white culture more than the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, he spoke of the insidious racism hidden deep within the Christian community. Two of the most recent explicit racial attacks have been committed at the hands of followers of Christ. Does American Christianity really perpetuate racism?

I had never entertained the notion that I could be prejudiced. In regards to religion, I grew up with a best friend who was Jewish. In regards to race, my years in Korea gave me a sensitivity and a compassion for wanting to understand others. In regards to economic divides, I do what I can to fight injustices and to help right wrongs.

Yet the more I listened to God speak through Dr. Rah, I realized that all is not what it should be. I have tolerated racism before. I have put up with hatred and sly remarks though I have been sickened with disgust. And in remaining silent, I only perpetuate this problem.

Not only that, but my brand of Christianity carries a privilege. I understand God from the perspective of a middle class white American woman. Like it or not, I see God through a particular lens, a narrow one at that. I have made no concerted efforts to surround myself with non-white voices and that is to my disadvantage, to say the least. The kingdom of God is not a white one. It is gorgeous in its’ brilliant array of colors.

When I neglect to hear the rich stories of others, I also miss out on different facets of God’s radiance. It’s almost as though pieces of His beauty go un-mined. It’s no less than a travesty – for me, for those voices who have been silenced far too long, and for our children who deserve to hear the wonders of God spoken from different tongues and heritages and perspectives.

Before one of our Compassion children was old enough to write, I corresponded with his mom Gina. Gina and Rodean (and the rest of her children) live in the Philippines. It is one of my fervent, crazy, almost unattainable prayers to be able to meet Gina one day on this earth. I always told Paul that Gina knew something about God that I didn’t. Her letters to me were so rich and thankful and warm and giving. They were authentic and pure and almost shocking in their understanding of the person of Jesus Christ. Though we were the ones who were supposed to be giving of our wealth, I was the recipient of her riches. And hers were of far greater worth…

All that to say, that I have a lot to learn. I have a lot of questions to ask my unbelieving Dad, my neighbor, the youth group students, the homeless guys from the shelter, my co-workers, our Compassion children and their parents. My first question out of the starting blocks will be, “What does my life communicate to you about my Jesus?”

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If You Give a Pig a Pancake…

For any of you who are local, Pittsburgh’s International Children’s Theatre’s production of If You Give a Pig a Pancake is phenomenal. It’s a musical revue of that plus Diary of a Worm, Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores, How I Became a Pirate, Lilly’s Big Day, and the Paper Bag Princess. They’ve got the same production continuing all weekend and much more to come (Velveteen Rabbit, Russian American Kids’ Circus, etc.)

Selah and I had a mommy and me night, which was much needed after a day with a sad little Mr. Adden. The poor guy has been under the weather of late and I’m pretty sure he cried straight for about 3 hours today. I could not muster one smile out of him with any amount of parachute time, ball games, singing, or even yummies.

So it was pure delight to hear Selah giggle her way through the show. She was pretty patient today – cutting paper, coloring, and dressing her babies while I tried to make Adden not scream. During the show, she sat on the edge of her seat with big eyes and a bigger smile. She kept glancing over at me with this kind of expression like, “Is this for real?” We topped the evening off with lots of pancakes, butter, and syrup with Paul and Adden.

The night couldn’t have been sweeter…

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Facing Fear

(Notes from Stacy Gallagher)

Fear can be motivational or crippling. People respond to fears by tackling them or cowering down under them.

Anger is always a shield emotion for fear. So to resolve the anger, you have to identify the fear.

Night terrors (in children) can be attributed to spiritual warfare. The head of the home needs to be vigilant in praying for his children in order for them to be resolved.

Children’s fears need to be honored, not minimized or maximized. If fears are not dealt with early, they will develop into life-crippling phobias.

Men’s fears are often performance driven. (Fear of failure) Women’s fears are often relational. (We’re afraid we’re too much and not enough all at the same time.)

Transference of fears is probable if we don’t address the fears in our own lives. Kids easily absorb the fears of their parents.

Fear entered into our world because of a lie. (Genesis 3:10) Most fears are founded on lies…. The ultimate message of fear is that God cannot be trusted.

Our Creator knew that we would be a people who are often afraid. He left us with 365 references on fear.


Ever Since I Have Known You…

What are you known for?

I’ve been diving into Deuteronomy lately for whatever reason. And Moses had some scathing things to say about the Israelites. To the tune of, “You have been rebellious against the Lord ever since I have known you.” (9:24)

They were known for their rebellion.

It was how they were perceived, what they were characterized by, and where they achieved their identity.

For them, rebellion was born out of fear and unbelief. Small origins fueled a misplaced identity which in turn ruined a people.

They were known for their rebellion.

What are you known for?


Bailout Plan

Loved loved loved this post by Tim Glenn. It was posted on Compassion’s blog. If you don’t sponsor a child from Compassion, please consider doing so today. It sure does mean the world to us. I can’t imagine them. Here is what he had to say:

“It’s extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion dollars to save 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.” –Bono.


I don’t mean to make light of the current economic crisis in the United States, but there’s a part of me that wonders if we don’t deserve this.
As a country, we have been getting fat and lazy while two thirds of the world struggles just to stay alive. Not all of us, mind you, but collectively — as a country — we’re complaining not because we can’t survive but because our luxuries cost us more than we want to spend.
We want cheap gas and “affordable” four-bedroom homes. We want 200 channels on television and to be able to go out to eat two or three times a week.
As Americans, many of us believe we deserve those things. There’s a sense of entitlement. Meanwhile, on the other side of this tiny little planet of ours, someone is praying, pleading to God for a slice of bread.
So our government is working on a bailout plan. How can we maintain the “American way of life” without suffering the consequences of our decisions? A loan. We’ll loan ourselves money and turn a blind eye to the root causes of greed and selfishness.
We do that so well, don’t we? We attack problems by trying to change the circumstances, instead of battling the root causes. I know I’ve done it in my own life, so this is as much an indictment on me as it is on anyone else.
Then I start to think about the poor.
What is the bailout plan for that family living on less than $2 a day in a developing country? The family who struggles not with wants for luxury but needs for survival. Who will bail them out?
The answer, oddly enough, is us. Yes, the same “us” that’s struggling in the midst of this economic downturn. When our economy is bad, it trickles down to the poorest of the poor.
Higher food costs and fuel prices mean their $2 a day doesn’t go nearly as far. We have to look beyond ourselves, now more than ever, to be the church God intended us to be.
The Church is God’s bailout plan for the poor….
I’m not saying we should throw money at poverty and turn a blind eye to its root causes. I understand why Bono is frustrated over the lack of funds, I really do. But money alone won’t stop poverty.
It goes deeper than that. Besides, I think the Church can do better than any government. We understand the spiritual implications that despair and hopelessness cause. And no one can meet those needs better than the Church. If we’ll just be the Church.
This is a time to pray. Not just for the economic crisis in our country, but also for the ones hit hardest — the poor. And, there’s something else we can do: give more.
That’s right . . . more. I know it sounds odd, but what if, instead of hording our money during this time of economic struggle, we decided to be more giving? Wouldn’t that be something?
At the very least, we can’t afford to cut back on our giving. The poor simply cannot survive if we do.
I don’t know what giving more means to you. It could be sponsoring a child. It could be giving to a fund that feeds the hungry.
Maybe it means going on a mission trip and getting your hands dirty. But this is the time to do it. Now. Not tomorrow. Not to change circumstances . . . but to attack the roots.


Weaving Dreams with Conscious Decisions

Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious… yet they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together. -Annas Nin
For dreams to be actualized, there needs to be proactivity in setting goals and laboring towards them. There also needs to be realization that we may never get to see the work of our hands accomplished. I suppose this becomes okay if we know there is more going on than what our eyes can see.
I did some dreaming while I was recovering and that was a good thing. God had some healing to do of sorts – body, mind, soul. Life had become so busy and loud and chaotic that I forgot what direction I was going in. Old Thoreau invited us to, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams; to live the life you’ve imagined.”

(On a side note, I confess that living the life I had imagined never involved so much stinkin’ laundry. Nor a couple hours of cooking something barely edible. Nor cleaning up after a child who can effectively avalanche my plastic containers, pull a chair down on top of himself, and rub blueberry jelly into the carpet while I try to use the bathroom. )

But I diverge. Living the life I imagined also never involved so much laughter and so much content.

Anyway, now that I’ve stirred up the dreams, I’ve got some goals to identify, some work to do. I’ve got to put grit on vague notions. I’ve got to make conscious decisions every day so that I’m walking towards these dreams, living the life that God has written on my soul.

Some of this planning is a coming to grips. Like realizing that things aren’t as they should be, that I am weak, and I am more than prone to leaving the path that God has set before me. The planning also hinges on the counsel of wise sages that I trust. And the companionship of good friends to push me higher or sometimes just bring me down a few notches. I need talks and tears and climbing walls and coffee shops. I need grace.

The following list is an incomplete slew of random conscious decisions that I am implementing. I’ve got to change some stuff round these parts. These choices are absurd and petty (and like, she struggles with that?) but I’ve got to write these somewhere and here’s as good of a place as any. It’s my way of tugging some dreams down into tangible pieces. Once these conscious decisions become habitual, I can focus on other stuff. Cause God knows, I got lots:).

1. Limit TV. I usually keep the Today’s Show on in the morning, along with Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. Though the programs aren’t bad in and of themselves, I’ve found that there is considerably more communication, creativity, spontaneity, and fun without the drone of the TV even on. Plus, I don’t want the kids (or me) soaking up the advertisements.

2. Computer off at night. When the kids go to bed, I find myself relaxing by checking into a million things online. Most of it is unnecessary and steals away time with Paul. That’s pretty lame, cause Paul jams and I’m sorry that I’m missing out on us together.

3. Zero use of credit card. We are climbing out of debt right now and have put a complete stop on the plastic. The little rewards they offer are so alluring. Ours was a US Airways credit card that earned us free tickets every now and again. The problem is that we couldn’t control our impulse buying and we didn’t live within our means. The bills that used to be paid in full started to soar. And we’ve realized that there is no freedom in debt when we are called to be free.

So that means we’re cutting back and selling stuff and paying with cash only to get those bills down. It’s becoming quite a fun game to see how much money I can make on Craig’s List and to see how much I can whittle down our grocery bill. When I go to the grocery store with only $80 to spend, I only spend $80. How bout that. It’s what we should’ve been doing all along but it feels good to have learned a lesson and to not let the want of more stranglehold us.
4. Limit on Starbucks drive-thru. Coffees are important to me, like really important. So I find it easy to justify $1.64 quite frequently and I often feel like I’ve earned it. I read a great article about entitlement recently and it hit me so hard, I just can’t justify this expense any more (at least not when I could easily go home and brew a nice cup!) Now when I’ve got to hype things up at Gymboree for hours on end, it may be a different story.

5. Going to bed by 11:00. Right now I’m pushing 12 or 1 most nights and that sleep never gets made up. (Plus 7 hours is a gamble at night with Adden up indiscriminately!) I’m a better mom when I’m healthy and rested and fun.

6. Waking up before the kids. For years, I woke up at 4 to hang with God, exercise, and do housework. Since kids have come onto the scene, I can’t get up before 8. They wake up running and I wake up dragging. The first thing they see is a groggy, “I can’t believe you’re up so early” disaster. It’s so not a good thing.

7. Living a love for the word of God in front of our kids. I’ve always spent time with God while kids were napping since I need my solitude. While that’s all well and good, I also want them to know how much I value the word of God. And they won’t know that unless they see it. (Something I’ve heard reiterated at MOPS.) Inevitably, Selah will sit next to me and “translate” the Bible for herself (“God says ride in Daddy’s car.”) And Adden will destroy the house until he slams his hand in a drawer. Then he’ll sit crying in my lap:) But, anything is worth a try…



8. Encouraging our students. While I was sick, I realized how much I loved youth ministry. I found myself shooting off emails and facebook stuff all over the place. And when I asked questions, the students answered. Some of them were so honest and forthright that I was humbled to be that transparent too. I confess that I hadn’t been praying for them specifically by name before. Now I think about them constantly and know that I need to focus my efforts here. (Which means taking a break from other stuff.)

Well, these are the conscious decisions I’ll be working on for the next 6 weeks. Is that how long it takes to make stuff a habit? I have no idea, but if you aren’t hearing from me for a while, you’ll know why.

Got any conscious decisions you’re hammering out?


Dream With Me.

I am a dreamer. Always have been, always will be.

I dream of peace and hope and laughter and freedom and rescues and sacrificial love.

I dream of growing old with Paul and holding each other up in our frailties. I dream of Selah reflecting the goodness of God and holding out hope to those who have pandered it away. I dream of Adden referring to his Creator as ADONAI and living to serve Him. I dream of stepping foot on foreign soil again to love people to Jesus. And I dream of loving Him today where He has placed me for this now.

I am a dreamer. And I think I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not.

So dream with me. And tell me your dreams. Dream big and dream wide and dream unimaginable impossibilities because we have a God whose love cannot be contained. With eternity set in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11), it is innate in our being to crave something greater than ourselves.

What are you dreaming about today?