Friday, June 29

IHOP in Your Room

The wild folks at IHOP in Kansas City have a brand new high-quality webstream live from their 24-7 prayer room. I remember them setting up for this massive-thing when I was at One Thing. I've had their Noon to 2pm set on the speakers as they've been meditating on and singing through Jesus' words in the Beatitudes, and David's in the Psalms. The music is really nice. This is very good for my heart.

I spent some time at IHOP in September and January. I'm amazed by their passion and intensity and joy. And by the way they train young people to use their musicianship with excellence while still leaving such room for the spontaneous song. So much of their worship is unrehearsed, and yet still aesthetically-pleasing to both the ears and spirit. This is rare.

If you have a decent connection, check it out.

(Thanks for the reminder that the webcast is now up, Beth.)

Child of 70's: Flight Suits

It has been hereby established that, though I was born in November of 1979, I am yet a child of the 70's. Let me see if I've got this right. Lisa reminded me that in such days, angel flight suits were hot.

Blue Angel Flight.

(Photo: Picture Taker 2)

Blue Angel Flight Suit.

(Photo: Flight Deck)

Angel Flight Suits - A Brady Bunch

(Photo: Brady Bunch Shrine)

I'm from Barcelona

This is a song from a new band from Sweden. Their band name is, "I'm from Barcelona." They make me happy.

(Muito Obrigada, Elise.)

Thursday, June 28

Power to the People, Mama

This is a public service announcement to you, the people.

Being that the latest poll vote was split across party lines, I've compromised concerning the auto-magically starting music.

Henceforth, thou shalt click the red Last-fm box if thou desirests to partake. No more insta-indie (here comes the brand new flavor) in your ear.

All apologies for any inconveniences caused by said music.

(Photo by Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

Three's Company

This one's for Agent B, who commented that I looked like "that chick from Three's Company." Oh, Janet! I am just barely old enough to remember that 70s show, though I never understood the punchlines. Come and knock on our door...

(HT: Andrew Jones and his classic photo-shopping antics.)

Wednesday, June 27

Three's A Crowd

My dentist says I have three tiny cavities. Oh dear. Too many cupcakes.

The smiling news is that it won't hurt to fill 'em. And it'll only cost me $20. I'm very happy I decided to sign-up for the dental health plan, ma'am.

I sat down in the check-up chair and felt compelled to confess with great severity, "Doctor, I haven't been flossing." He was gracious and just sort of laughed at me.

A Kind Goodbye

Sunday night was my last hurrah at the church. We played CTF 5000 (Capture the Flag insane-o style) and ate too much pizza. And then the kiddos blindsided me with the sweetest surprise: thank you cupcakes. A handful of them stood up in front of the group and said things they'd miss about me, they prayed for me, and put on a cute slideshow. Then came the cupcakes.

I am very difficult to surprise. But this was such a kind goodbye.

I taught on Luke 4 and Colossians 1, about Jesus' mission and how he wants to live out that mission of love and healing mysteriously through us. How the mystery is that, "Christ lives in and through you." It was great fun.

The younger ones left and then I showed the movie Invisible Children to the more mature folk. It was good that the 24-7 prayer room was still open, because we all sort of needed to just sit in silence and pray afterward. Have you seen this incredible documentary, yet?

Invisible Children: Rough Cut Trailer

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Saturday, June 23

Evan Almighty Responses

I took the youth group to see the opening of Evan Almighty last night and laughed my little head off. It is a lovely film with simple truths about family, kindness, and God's love for creation. Morgan Freeman made me cry happy tears at the very end, because he plays a really tender Daddy-God.

I think you should grab the kiddos in your neighborhood and go watch this movie when it comes to your town. It's been a long time since I've sat in a cinema where the crowd has erupted in applause at the very end.

I had some weird conversations with random adults post-movie, though. One person was slightly offended that God was played by a black man. This response sort of infuriated me, but I held it together. I tried to calmly say that today, the majority of Christ-followers in our world reside in the Southern Hemisphere and are not so white-skinned. What would they think of our Morgan?

And then another person commented about the movie being "Pro-Earth" (said in a huffed-of-course-this-movie-must-be-a-liberal-plot sort of way.) I just raised my eyebrows and said, "Well, isn't that nice, since the Scriptures seem to be so Pro-Earth!"

I'm really tired of political polarizing in the American Church on issues of caring for Creation. Over the last few years, simple acts of kindness towards the earth, like recycling, have become a part of my worship. Creation-care is an element of discipleship to me, not a political stance. Some folk in my church still see me as a hippie, but that's alright with me. I think of that Derek Webb song, "My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or's to a King and a Kingdom."

I guess you should go see the movie and tell me if you think it's politically charged. I found it to be just lovely. It is difficult to represent God's character well in Hollywood, particularly in a comedy! But I, for one, found myself laughing and crying at the simple truths in this film. Nellers gives it two thumbs up.

Friday, June 22

Donating to The Simple Way and Potter St.

After the fire, The Simple Way has announced two ways you can give to rebuild their community. I'm amazed that at a time when they could take "all the money for themselves" that they are likewise raising support for all of their neighbors on Potter Street. This is the Way of Jesus.

Click here to give: Rebuild their Community.

I couldn't give very much either, but lots of simple gifts go a long Simple Way.

You can give towards...
1. The Rebuilding Fund
For The Simple Way community, we are setting up a fund that helps community members recover their losses and begin to decide what to do next. This will also support the projects of community like the community gardens, Cottage Printworks, Yes! And..., and other things in and around Potter Street.

2. Kensington Families Fund

For the families on Potter Street, H Street, and Westmoreland whose lives have been disrupted by this fire, a fund to support these families has been established. This money will go to help families in The Simple Way’s neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 20

Fire at Simple Way House: Pray, Please

I just got word that this morning there was a 7-alarm fire at the Simple Way house in Philadelphia, home of Shane Claiborne. Shane recently penned The Irresistible Revolution, a book on his experiences of living in this new monastic community he helped to establish.

Here's what Billy from the Ashram just wrote about the fire:

I am deeply saddened to report that the Simple Way house at 3200 Potter Street was very badly damaged, and from what I've heard, has been condemned and will probably be torn down soon. I just got off the phone with Chris Lahr and he told me that apparently everyone is ok, though it sounds like Shane made a pretty narrow escape and everyone has lost a lot of valuable personal articles. I think that I can safely speak for anyone who has ever been to 3200 Potter when I say that we've all lost something that is a vital part of our unfolding communal story. This place has truly been one of the most important and life changing destinations for Christian pilgrims in America over the course of the last decade.

It's important that we pray for this community in Philly. They are trailblazers and way-preparers.

(Thanks to Beth for the transluscent news.)

24-7 Prayer Musings

We're about 50 hours into our week of prayer. Here are my current musings:

1. Sometimes it's easier for me to be honest by banging out wordless prayers on a djembe or on guitar strings than it is for me to mutter things aloud to God.

2. Maybe some folks who aren't as sensory-oriented sometimes perceive prayer rooms as claustrophobic and weird? I'm trying to gauge the varied responses I've gotten from church people as to why (or why not) they've given the prayer-room a try.

3. I think that the (tiny percentage of) people who already have disciplined prayer lives find prayer rooms insulting. ("Why do I need to come pray in your silly room when I can pray at home like I always do?") But I'm sure that the root of this response is the sneaky streak of individualism that we've allowed into Western Christianity as if it's gospel truth. We really need each other, even in learning to pray.

3.5. A 24-7 Prayer room is a nice welcome mat to people who feel as if they are just terrible at prayer. The freedom experienced inevitably cheers them on that they, too, are capable of authentic and enjoyable prayer.

4. I think prayer rooms give people who are starved for community a tiny whiff of what it feels like to be transparent before others.

5. I wonder if the way we often do anonymous confessions in prayer rooms takes away from being able to truly confess our sins face-to-face, and so be healed. Or maybe it's one step in that direction, for most people.

6. It is a rare joy to have an undistracted space to commune with the Living God.

7. Reading the prayers of others on a wall reminds us that we're not alone.

8. Prayer is a discipline, but it doesn't have to feel like punishment. 24-7 Prayer rooms have renewed a desire for me to pray because they've connected prayer with creativity and childlikeness, even. I'm allowed to finger-paint my prayers, Ma!

9. It feels good to shout to God sometimes. Not necessarily in praise, but in bare frustration and honesty. I've really needed this prayer room to give me permission to do so this week.

Tuesday, June 19

24-7 Prayer Week

Yesterday we kicked off a 24-7 Prayer week at my church. Sunday morning about 10 middle and high school kiddos transformed my office into the prayer room while sweating, laughing, and eating Doritos.

We're about 30 hours into it and we've had a pretty much unbroken chain of prayer, much to my surprise. This afternoon I left the room because I needed to sleep, not freaking out that I was "breaking the chain." I returned to find out that one of our awesome maintenance guys had taken the room once I left. So great.

If you are anywhere in the MD/VA area and want to come be a part of it, let me know. (I'd love to see you and serve you hot coffee, too.) Here's our online sign-ups if you wanna jump in. Our last hour will be 3:00pm on Sunday, June 24th: Click here, champ.

It is very fun to see people sign-up out of curiosity (or to "make Jenelle happy") and then to watch them leave the room jazzed by God's Presence, and then immediately signing up for more hours. Today a guy left the prayer room and then asked me if there is need for more people to go out of the country to do missions work!

I love 24-7 prayer. It is so fun. God does stuff when you give him the space and invite others inside.

It is midnight and two teenage girls are staying up with me to unlock the big church doors and let older people in for their late night hours.

(Photo of Lisbon's lovely Monument to the Portuguese Explorers)

Friday, June 15

Working for the Church While Your Family Dies

I'm listening to an exceptional record entitled "Neon Bible" while writing papers about the local church. This is ironical, child.

Arcade Fire's newest release is as pretentious as indie rock gets, and that's their point. It is swooning with over-production, but that's what a Neon Bible does when it's flashing in a store-front.

"Intervention" is an unbelievable track, replete with big churchy-pipe organs and a nice little acoustic guitar. I've left the choruses here for you because they tell the sad truth of what is too often the untold story of senior pastors. I say we need a new leadership paradigm, sir. And, (ahem) madam.

Working for the church
While your family dies
You take what they give you
And you keep it inside
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home
Hear the solider groan, "We'll cry alone"

Working for the Church
While my family dies
Your little baby sister's
Gonna lose her mind
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home
Hear the soldier groan "We'll go at it alone"

Been working for the church
While your life falls apart.
Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home
Hear the soldier groan, "We'll go at it alone"
Hear the soldier groan, "We'll go at it alone"

(Photo from Arcade Fire Fan Site: Us Kids Know)

Mathspeak for Christians: Bounded-sets

[I'm going to start posting bits of what I've been learning in my classes, in case you're interested. If my language starts sounding pretentious and annoyingly academic, please stop me.]

Here is something I'm chewing on from a book by Paul Hiebert:

What are the consequences of defining Christianity as a bounded-set?

In the West, we tend to define our realities in terms of boundaries, in terms of either/or, rather than the both/and of fuzzy-sets. Bounded-sets is a view of reality based on the Greek worldview that we have inherited.

Hiebert warns that when Christianity takes on the form of bounded-sets, we first begin classifying people as Christians “on the basis of what she or he is,” according to our own tests of orthodoxy and orthopraxy (Hiebert 1994: 115). Secondly, bounded-set Christianity sharply delineates between those who are “in” as Christians, and those who are “out,” and that, as consequence, we tend to work hard to maintain this delineation. Thirdly, this sort of Christianity views all believers as essentially the same, discrediting any sense of spiritual maturity or immaturity, and the need to learn from one another. Fourth, a heavy emphasis is placed on conversion as the defining “boundary line,” while sanctification has no place in the set. Lastly, there is an over-emphasis on the ontological reality of righteousness: the intrinsic nature of the person is of the highest importance.

(Maths photo by Akirsa)

Synchroblog on Untouchables

I am writing book reviews en masse for my last class this quarter, feeling the buzz of deadlines like adrenaline in my blood. Otherwise I would've liked to be a part of this month's Synchroblog. Check out what these smart Synchro folks are saying about those in society who seem to be "The Untouchables."

Mike Bursell muses about Untouchables
David Fisher on Touching the Pharisees - My Untouchable People Group
Adam Gonnerman with Quickened Pen
Michael Bennet writes Nothing more than the crust life
Jeremiah at Models of church leadership and decision-making as
they apply to outreach

John Smulo talks about Christian Untouchables
Sally Coleman shares on The Untouchables
Sam Norton talks about Untouchables
Steve Hayes on Dalits and Hindutva
Sonja Andrews visits the subject here
Fernando A. Gros speaks up on Untouchability And Glocalisation
Phil Wyman throws out the Loose Lips - A "SinkroBlog"
Josh Rivera does his stuff with the

Wednesday, June 13

Emo and Walking Awkwardly

Well, the girls retreat was a raving success, and I laughed harder than I have in quite a long time. Elise was extraordinary with the girls, as expected. It seemed that the Spirit was a busy-one over our weekend.

I waved Elise off at the aeroporto as she is flying back to Portugal tonight. Now I'm getting a kick out of watching the flight tracker as the little plane inches across the map-lantic.

I'm just a couple weeks away from my final days of working at the church, and finally am starting to feel some grieving-type things. To be truthful, I'm terribly confused by the emotions. I haven't felt this sort of sadness in a while.

I'm presuming this is part of God helping me properly peace-out an era that is ending. All of a sudden it feels I'm re-grieving some of the old goodbye's from my life in Portugal. It's an awkward walk to revisit old tears.

I think it's connected to the end of this long-youth ministry gig, but I'm actually not certain. This analytic-girl likes to (expects to) understand what she is feeling certainly and immediately. And when she can't, she sort of throws tantrums at her heavenly Daddy. (She's a stomper.)

My heart feels like a little airplane frozen in time, midway across the Atlantic.

Friday, June 8

Girls Retreating to Williamsburg

Tomorrow I'm taking a couple car loads of teenagers down to colonial Williamsburg for a Girls Retreat. I'm a very happy Nelly that dear Elise is flying across the country to join us, all the way from California, on her way back to Portugal. She'll do a lot of sharing from her life, from her lovely songs, and in just being Elise. I'll follow alongside and take the girls through 1 John and some prayer. I'll try to keep them well fed and laughing, as well.

Please pray for us that the nice Holy Spirit would do excellent things in all of our hearts. Particularly pray for the safe space for good conversations together. I expect that we will have many conversations on sex and sexuality and love. Our theme is "love letters," so I hope to share some simple things on these juicy matters through the lens of love being sacrifice. Pray for Elise and I, please. Particularly as I'm writing papers and am in the midst of finals. And as Elise is flying the red-eye from Santa Barbara.

(Photo by Neurotic Jose)

On Elijah's Rotten Kidney

Here's a quick update on Elijah Wyman's kidney transplant. Thanks for the prayer, if that was you:

1. His surgery went well.
2. His kidney-giving friend's surgery went well.
3. Pray for the icky reactions he's having to the immunosuppressants.
4. Here's what his Daddy says:
Elijah is doing well this morning, and of course, the next few days - well even the whole next month is critical for him. Your prayers are our strength - thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

5. Folky Rockstars shouldn't have rotten kidneys:

Thursday, June 7

Spelling Bees Rule

I don't normally watch TV while I run at the gym. Tonight was different. The dude next to me was watching the tube, so I decided I shouldn't shut it off like I normally do. At least it was turned to ESPN. I can zone out ESPN just fine, thank you.

How happy I was to find ESPN covering the finals of the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee!

I love words. I love kids. I love spelling. This was heavenly to me. I was giggling aloud at these little ones, and their so-intense severity. Watching the whole thing closed-captioned was a hilarious affair. In all of my dorkestry, this was just wonderful.

Do you know why I like the National Spelling Bee? It is a total celebration of kids from beginning to end. ESPN sports jockeys interviewed these 8 to 11-year olds as if they were superstars. It made me so happy.

I remember going to the District championships for the Spelling Bee in 5th grade. I had to study this insane dictionary book of ridiculous words. I didn't win. But it was great fun.

(Photo by Mark Bowen.)


This is what the Nelly does whilst distracting herself from finals.

Verily, verily I say unto you, I'm happy to be 55% Minnie. I loved her in Good Will Hunting.

(HT to the looking-like Beckham Tallskinnykiwi.)

Wednesday, June 6

"Little girl, I say to you, get up"

Last night I dreamt that I was in a European square near a riverfront. There were loads of people around and live musicians playing happy music. I was sitting down, looking bored, and just trying to blend into the scenery. All of a sudden, Arianna emerged, and she insisted that I get up and dance. I fussed and moaned (I'm really not a hot dancer), but she persisted that I was missing something in the music. She pulled me along and led me in a ballroom dance all around. We even danced up and down big European steps that led from the square. I was a sight!

At times I got lazy and she had to ask me to stop dragging my feet and to please just follow her. I had no idea what I was doing with my feet, but I was giggling a lot. When the music stopped, we were down near the river's edge. We hugged and I laughed.

I woke up feeling so happy and assured. There's so much going on in my life right now that I'm not sure where to step forward first. I guess I'm feeling like the Nelly that was sitting down bored in the square, paralyzed with uncertainty. It seems that last night Jesus showed up in my dream in the form of my dear new friend, Arianna, to encourage me up to dance, and to please not be afraid. I just need to hang on to him while we he leads and we listen to the music. And then we'll hug and I'll laugh.

(Photo by Carolink)

Tuesday, June 5

Elijah's New Kidney

Phil Wyman's son Elijah is getting a kidney transplant Wednesday morning at 9:30am. Let's pray for him. And for his friend, Jason, who's giving him a kidney.

Here are two exceedingly cute and quick videos to help you pray for Elijah and maybe dump a few bucks into his transplant fund. Elijah is only in his early 20's. Pray for his wife, Rhonda, too.

Sunday, June 3

Saying Goodbye to Youth Work

On June 30th I'm drawing to a close a long stint of youth work. I only recently realized that my last day as youth director at the church stands for something much more significant than a job change. This is a goodbye to an era. I don't take these things lightly. But I do know that it is the right time. This youth ministry chapter has lasted a little over 8 years, and it has been good. Stretching. A great space to grow in. But now I see God walking me into a new season where my gifts will be (even) more fully used, and that feels nice.

I would like to learn how to say "goodbye" to seasons properly. I feel a bit ready to rush out of this one, but I don't want to skip over anything. When I realized that nice Agent B linked me in his network as "youth worker," I sort of had an inner-freak out session. ("I'm a what?") That link-reaction showed me that, emotionally, I have probably already said "goodbye" to this part of my life.

I suppose I do that. I always grieve way in advance. If only I could learn to write papers that way.