Happy Birthday to me!

Hello 28...


Little Glimpses

Ah, it's 70 degrees again in SD today...feels like Christmas. Seriously though, I have no problem with the colder weather; but it is nice to be able to go for walks and sit outside without pounds of clothes on. And I got to hang out with my family in NorCal for a couple days, and I got to see a couple of my best friends, and all's well. I need to spend some more time by the ocean though.

Something I've been thinking about lately is the conversation that happens between what I believe about God, and what I see happening in my life. Y'know, the usual relationship between God and experience. And I do think it's good for them to be in conversation with one another, but the thing I've been realizing is that a lot of times it's a one-sided conversation. Like, it's much easier to let my experience dominate the discussion about what God is like--when really, I think it's even more crucial to let who I know God to be transform how I see and interpret my experiences.

Take the area of romantic relationships (or don't, for all I care). But I don't have a lot of luck in this area, I hardly ever meet people I would want to date (I get infatuated easily, but that's different), and when I do they don't want to date me. Or, vice versa. It's just not an area I've tasted a lot of God's faithfulness in. And I'm not bitter about it, but it's easy for me to begin to believe that God is just not faithful or good to me in this area (and let's face it, for most of us it's an important area). But that's letting my experience determine what I think about God, when what I really think needs to happen is that my understanding (and really experience, too) of God's goodness can recast how I perceive my experiences in this area.

And I think God spares us and saves us from so many things we're not even aware of. But once in a while, we do get a glimpse of how God is working all the time, and I think it's those glimpses that keep us going.
Like when I first got out of college, and I applied for this job at my favorite L.A. radio station at the time (Y-107) which I thought was the perfect job and I loved the station, and I prayed like mad that God would give it to me. Well, I got the interview, and I pursued the job hardcore, and I didn't get it. I felt so crappy, and felt like God had let me down, and blah blah blah. So anyway, a few months later I turn on my car, with the radio on Y-107, and the mariachi band blared out of the speakers. Yes, the radio station had converted to a Spanish station. If I had been working there, I would have been out of a job just a few months later. God knew what she was doing after all. And I think it's the same in romantic relationships too.

Anyway, gotta love those little glimpses.


The Question Game

I already typed out lengthy answers to all of stephcap's questions, and then I think I inadvertantly canceled the post. Sucks. So here they are again. Thanks steph for the questions!! If anyone wants some from me, let me know.

1) When was the last time you wrote a poem?

A few weeks ago--the one I included on my blog as my reflection on Acts 27.

2) Would you ever act in a movie again?

I'm not really much into the whole acting scene anymore--I haven't talked to my agent in probably 10 years. However, I have told mishabomb that if she writes a part for me in one of her movies, then I'll come out of "retirement." ;) I still have my SAG membership, it's just on hold so I don't have to pay dues every year to keep it--but I can activate it at anytime in the next 20 years, if I want to.

3) What is the best birthday or Christmas gift you’ve ever gotten?

Well, cash is always nice. :) But other than that, when I was 11 I got I nice wooden playhouse in the backyard, and that was awesome to have sleepovers in and all that. We painted it pink and blue, put some linoleum in it, curtains, the whole 9 yards. Good times.

4) Why haven’t you gotten Frank to start a blog?

I am talking to Frank on the phone right now. Here is what he jokingly says: "Because no one cares about my life." But he also said I could keep a blog for him if I wanted to, and pretend to be him, and include all sorts of juicy stuff.

5) What issue do you think the church needs to take the forefront in, but has yet to (at least in convincing fashion)?

This is a really good question. The list of things that comes into my head are war/pacifism, racial reconciliation, authentic community, fighting addiction, and beauty/body image type stuff. Sometimes churches do a good job with these things, but as a whole, I think the Church is not leading the way. And more often than not, the Church seems to perpetuate some of the lies and misconceptions that keep the Powers and Principalities in control. But if I had to pick just one, I guess it would be authentic and honest community--because a lot of the other things would flow from that.


Doing Church

I have been thinking a lot lately about this post a friend of mine linked to on her blog.

The question the person is answering in the post is: If you could "do church" any way you wanted, how would you do it?

Her/His answers are really intriguing to me, because I'm like--YES! This is totally how church could be. But then I also realize there is some stuff missing... Oh how I wish the Church would be transformed...


Acts 27 Poem

To get on the bandwagon of posting poetry we've written, here is a poem I wrote in response to Acts 27, about Paul's sea voyage, and what it made me think about.


I really like showering.
I'd take 5 a day if I had the time
and it wasn't an issue of stewardship
and it wouldn't strip the good stuff from my hair.

Sometimes I take 2 though.

What I'm saying is,
I really like water.
If I could be near water
touch water
see water
hear water
be in water
it would be a very good thing.

But the open sea isn't like a shower.

And laying on the beach, or
bodysurfing, or
looking at the ocean, or
fishing off a pier,
is a lot different
being in a boat,
far out from the land
at the mercy of the wind
which can be merciless in its violence.

Your plans get thwarted.

At first the wind is pleasant.
It seems like it will help you
get where you want to go.
To where you need to go.
But you're not going there today.
When you're on the sea
there's only so much you can do.

So you have to make a choice.

Take your boat onto the sea
risk the wind
risk the waves
risk death
at least to your boat
if not to yourself and your whole crew.


Stay in your house
under your roof
under your ceiling
under the covers
listening to Ocean Sounds #4
on your Sharper Image sound machine.

Hold your purposes loosely.


Christian Community and Engineers

I had a lovely evening. Besides the fact that I finished my Exilic Prophets paper, and feel pretty good about it (after a major strike of divine inspiration on the ending of the paper, a couple of hours before it was due...Thanks God!), I had a great evening of conversation with some of my friends from church tonight.

One of my friends from church, who is a graduate student in engineering at Georgia Tech, really wanted to talk about how it looks to live for God "all the way" and about what it means to live in intentional community, and if that's a necessity for all Christians (obviously, one of my favorite topics ). But the content of the conversation isn't really what I want to talk about here.

The thing that really struck me tonight was how much we need people from all types of vocations and mentalities in the Body of Christ. Because he's an engineer, and doesn't spent all day every day in seminary, his questions and perspective were so new and refreshing to me. It was so beautiful to see what things bothered him, really made him passionate, and how devoted he was to God. Some of his questions were challenging for me, because I think sometimes you can get stuck in a certain Christian paradigm--where the people you talk to (be they mainline, Catholic, totally charismatic, or Emergent church folks, or whatever) just don't challenge you in a certain way, y'know?

So anyway, tonight, I guess what I'm saying, is I'm thankful for engineers.


What do I need?

Since I'm tired, and I've been outlining my Exilic Prophets (ie, Ezekiel) paper for the past several hours, and then doing a little prep for teaching my Hebrew groups tomorrow, I don't have much to say. So I'll do this game that I think is funny, that my friend did on his blog a while back. It's where you type your first name and the word "needs" in quotes together in Google, and just cut and paste the first 10 different things you come up with. So, here is a list, according to Google, of the top 10 things "Bethany needs" (to be abundantly clear, this is Google, not an actual list of what I need):

1. Bethany needs to read this.
2. Bethany needs your help!
3. Bethany needs to kick her overbearing mother out of her apartment.
4. Bethany needs more prayers.
5. Bethany needs to send the information to other places.
6. Bethany needs help today before a brother and sister from Colombia are split up forever.
7. Bethany needs a parent or parents who will love her unconditionally and who are able to set limits and appropriate boundaries.
8. Bethany needs to go get some jeans.
9. Bethany needs major surgery on her ventricles to her kidneys.
10. Bethany needs a school bus.

What do you need?

Googling Myself

In other news, I just found a picture of me from 1989 on a Japanese film site of some sort. This is awesome! The internet rocks.


Gift Giving

So, a friend of mine and I were talking about gifts tonight (like, tangible presents, not spiritual gifts). I have the unfortunate privilege of being born on Christmas Eve, so my two main present-getting days are right next to each other. Now, these days, I don't really expect presents from my friends. I also usually don't get them presents either. Typically I do send a card, but for their birthday or Christmas I typically take them out to dinner or take them out for drinks instead of buying a gift. I usually assume that at our age, if there's something we were dying to have, we probably already bought it for ourselves.

Plus, and maybe this is where my own projecting comes in, I just don't like trinkets and useless decorative items (there are a few exceptions). I mean, I like books, music, DVDs--but I typically like to keep my surroundings as clutter-free as possible (which is not to say they're not messy, there's just not a lot of little knick-knacks and trinkets around). So the less stuff I have, the better.

So what's the word on this? Do you all get presents for all your good friends still? Am I a total Scrooge? I mean, if it was a friend who I know presents really mean a lot to, then I'll get them one. But I don't think I have many friends who really give a damn one way or the other. But then again, maybe I'm just overlooking it...I hope not!

Exilic Prophets Paper Angst

I am going nuts. I have my final paper for Exilic Prophets due Thursday, and I have yet to really settle on a topic. Or, should I say, I've already settled on several topics, only to begin researching them and realizing either: 1) The topic is too broad and really is better suited for a book than a paper; 2) I am totally uninterested in the topic; 3) I really have nothing to say about it; or 4) The topic really doesn't matter in the larger scheme of things.

See, after writing a midterm paper that I loved so much, that made me realize in a new way the great joy of research and writing, I am just at a loss now. This is my favorite class ever. These are some of my favorite texts in the Bible. And I am just not allowing myself to settle for anything less than thoroughly engaging, passionate, meaningful project. But alas, Thursday is coming up more quickly than is comfortable for me.

So, as my 378th proposed project/paper topic, I will be doing something with Ezekiel 3:1-11 (or perhaps up to v. 15). I've decided to narrow to a specific text, instead of doing a "topic", because those were just getting too big. So that's my text--and I'll either do a straightforward Hebrew exegesis paper, a sermon addressed to a real specific (and probably modern-day exilic) community, or some kind of article about how to be a preacher. But whatever. I think at this point I have to at least stick with a specific text, and I do love this text. So I'm including it here, and since I am currently flailing wildly in the middle of the sea, I would appreciate any thoughts (about the text, about how messed up it is that I can't pick something to write about, words of insight/grace/wisdom/rebuke/comfort, y'know, whatever).

1 He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey. 4 He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8 See, I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. 9 Like the hardest stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not fear them or be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 10 He said to me: Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears; 11 then go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them. Say to them, "Thus says the Lord God"; whether they hear or refuse to hear.

[And perhaps also the following...which makes for a kind of long chunk tho...]

12 Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the Lord rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; 13 it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. 14 The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me. 15 I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them, stunned, for seven days.


World AIDS Day

Today is world AIDS day. I HATE AIDS. Even more than I hate cops (which I don't really hate, I'm only pissed about my unfair ticket). So in honor of that, I'll include an experience of mine I included in our seminary's story collection for today.
I have been very blessed by a friendship with a guy who is HIV positive. Most of that has nothing to do with him having HIV. It has to do with him being a great listener, a very talented writer, a huge advocate on my behalf, his tendency to burst into song for no apparent reason, his willingness to be deeply vulnerable with his joys and struggles, and his talent for making hilarious and insightful comments in the midst of me melodramatically ranting about some person or situation that is totally frustrating me. We've worked together, worshiped together, prayed together, laughed together, gone to get his bloodwork together, and cried together; and I'm very grateful for his friendship.
With all of this, I have also learned some about his pain that comes with being HIV positive. There are of course physical and logistical problems that arise—finding the right medicine, going in for regular checks of his virus level, etc., having negative physical reactions to the medicine, and figuring out how the medicine is going to be paid for. But he seemed to manage these things pretty well—I mean, they didn't seem to be the bulk of the suffering. The thing that seemed the hardest for him was the emotional distance this created in many of his relationships. His parents still don't know he's positive, and it was several years before he even told his best friend. So there are some walls between him and people he really loves; and it's a really hard decision to know whether and how to tell people who are really important to him—because there is a lot to lose.
Especially in dating and romantic relationships, I've seen how hard it is for him when he falls for someone, and then doesn't really know how to proceed. There are all these questions of responsibility to the person, desire for the relationship to grow, and hesitation about whether the person will shun him if he reveals his status. It makes the already infinitely complicated world of dating and relationships infinitely more complicated; it's kind of heartbreaking.
But the bottom line is, he's a beautiful person and a wonderful friend, and yes, he is HIV positive. And for all of who he is, I am extremely grateful that God brought him into my life.