Friday, October 30, 2009

setting the world ablaze

So, "setting the world ablaze" sounds like perhaps I'm going to have some poetic blog entry, or something profoundly theological. Actually, the phrase literally popped into my head mere seconds before I wrote it. Maybe I'm not as bad at titling things (my song titles are generally boring) as I thought...

But our world needs some Fire, some Light, some Goodness. And I'm more and more sure that only Jesus sets a fire in our hearts to go and do the same. This week I've been struck by pictures of a terrible bombing in Pakistan, images of little children in the arms of already injured men; words from my fellow Memphians about their neighbors in this city, in this case neighbors who are considered poor, pondering, "are they poor because they're stupid or stupid because they're poor?".... such outrageously hurtful questions to ask. And a sister who is struggling, plagued with fear and worry and discontentment, who has yet to embrace freedom.

Yet amidst the darkness, there are those setting the world ablaze. Matthew and Brian have been burning a trail all over the eastern half of the country with their stories and songs and laughter; friends in India are passionately loving a people mostly without the Fire of Christ; the Church slowly raising a voice against the injustice of Memphis city schools, and inch-by-inch children in our inner-city are bearing the name of Christ, rejecting the apathy and destruction of their often dark and oppressive surroundings.

Ablaze, I'll tell you... ablaze.

Brothers, sisters.... keep setting the world ablaze with the Light.

Monday, October 19, 2009

First let me start by saying...

that Neha's lentil soup is fan-tas-tic (that's 3 claps, if you're learning your syllables). It's past 9pm, and she made it so we could have it for the next few days, but it's such a chilly evening, that I had to grab a bowl. Besides, I'm in a contemplative mood, partly brought on because of a story I just read in "Simple Spirituality" by Chris Huertz, about a family from India. A family he was friends with. Not "the poor" as I so easily throw around, but "his friends who happen to be poor" as he says, in an effort to give some dignity back to his friends.

I can't re-tell the story here.

But I did speak a prayer for them. A prayer for all "thems" who find themselves bowing down the prosperity God. Whether it be the one with the elephant head or the one with the shiny rims and luxury, private security living, or whatever our prosperity god happens to look like... God, have mercy on us...

...your kindness leads to repentance. Lead me to repentance, God!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Autumn in New England [we love thee]

Just a couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves laughing, roasting marshmallows, and listening to the Wailin' Jennys with two of our favs - Matt and Aislinn. If you've been around me more than 10 minutes, then there is a good chance you've heard their names... multiple times. What can we say? When you love 'em, you just love 'em.

And so we like to visit them, too. The colors were beautiful and soul-healing; the conversations were dreamy; the marshmallows (plus nutella) were delish. But most of all, it's just good to be with them. It was a good, good time... [here are some pictures to prove the good-ness.]

Yes. We miss this very, very much. Oh, Autumn, we love thee.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Please go see Matthew and Brian's tour blog! And if you're near one of their shows, go listen to their music, stories, and wonderfully terrifically hilarious jokes!

and tell them the Pates sent you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

the giver

I haven't developed this at all, but here goes.

We (and you'll know if you are in this category) always know what it means to be the giver. We are probably the ones who serve others. And isn't that what Jesus did when he stooped down and washed feet? Yes; he served them.

But it was also a much bigger deal than that. He was taking a low position, perhaps one of the lowest. Someone has to wash the yucky feet... and who offered to take up this position? Yes, Jesus. God made flesh.

How can we teach our children to "go low?" To befriend the lowly at school (which is difficult at their elite private schools)? How can we teach them to take up a position side-by-side with the poor instead of just above them? To be among each other. And can I even speak to this when I, too, am almost always the giver? Can we stand side-by-side and enter into suffering? Do we know what that means?

And is that at all what we communicate from our Church leadership? I fear the answer is mostly no.

Our efforts to create service projects, give away our old things, teach our Church body to go out and give away to people. Those things do serve their purpose; and yet often times they hurt the already open wounds.

[Re-envision. Awake, my soul.]

I am not speaking of voluntary poverty here; I am talking of enough. less. uncluttered. potluck dinners, where everyone can bring something to the table, and it is honored, no matter how big or how small. "freedom parties," where we celebrate freedom, even if only freedom from their addiction for those 2 hours when we're together; also to celebrate in hopes of the lasting freedom that we can have by way of Jesus the Christ.

Let us serve. give. and let us allow ourselves to be served. Let us move in, stand beside, work together.

we will walk with each other, we will hand in hand...
and they'll know we are Christian by our love

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Who doesn't hate leaving? Most of the time, at least. We just said goodbye to Matt and Aislinn after a really, really good visit. There were marshmallows + nutella, songs, walk by a river, good meals, and a country store (maybe the best country store I've seen!) And we're sad to leave. It's always sad to leave them. But to have friends - Family - like these is truly, truly a gift, a grace.

And as our last trip to Vermont, things are the airport are uncertain. It's 11:45am now, with a 12:30pm scheduled flight that is currently delayed until 1:55pm. We're already going to miss our flight in Atlanta, which we all knows we'll be put to 'Standby' on the next flight out. Maybe a side-trip to see Jeff's sis in Atlanta? [one can hope so, since I love a good side-trip :)]

Pictures of Vermont to come!


hurry up and wait.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

'Tis Autumn in New England...

Waking up in Vermont, knowing it is crisp and cool outside, with trees of red and yellow outside my window... this makes me want to write. But of course it does, right?

Aislinn is singing with her pure, strong voice in the living room, Jeff is making homemade
chicken noodle soup in the kitchen, and just 25 minutes ago we were taking a walk around this
small New England town known (by a certain few) for being the former home to Robert Frost
as he wrote of the apple groves Shaftsbury holds so dear.

We've been sitting around the table, laying around on the couches, walking the roads, dreaming
of storefront worship, a cafe who boasts farmers' market specials, and all sorts of rebirths
(reupholstered furniture, broken mirrors turned art, and souls reached without the help of flashing lights and stained glass windows). These dreams are lofty, but they have been stirring
in our hearts, even if they never come to be.

The leaves are changing, and maybe, finally, so are our hearts. It's been a tough 2 months. The crazy-busyness of the summer left us drained and wondering... what are we doing? why are we here? where have we been for the past year? Auto-pilot perhaps left us less than satisfied, knowing that Jesus isn't auto-pilot. He's breath and life and outstretched hands. But he is also rest to our weary souls. And that rest we are finding here in southern Vermont.

Aislinn is singing...

I will arise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me in His arms
in the arms of my dear Savior
oh, there are ten thousand charms