Friday Quotable

I stumbled across this gem today on the Stuff Christians Like blog, quoted from The Pressure's Off by Larry Crabb. I confess I don't know too much about Crabb or his book, so this is not intended to be an endorsement per se. But this quote captures so much of what we need to hear as Christians today:

“We taste so little of the mouth-stopping, complaint-ending, desire-deepening awe that His presence creates when we think more about our problems and how to solve them than about meeting Him. We experience so little of the joy that sustains us in suffering and the hope that anchors us amid shattered dreams when we come to Him looking for the pathway out of hardships instead of the pathway into His presence.”

Christianity Lite, as some are wont to call much of American evangelicalism, tends to preach Jesus as someone who can help you out of your troubles, bring peace and happiness, and provide health, wealth, and unceasing prosperity. It's all about your best life now, or at least bringing temporal, emotional contentment and relief from your hardships. His yoke is easy, right?

But I think we do miss the real meaning of the light yoke and the peace that passes understanding. These do not come apart from communion with and true desire for the Jesus who carried our burden once for all, and the God of true shalom. The way that we find relief from the hardships of today is to transcend time by entering into the presence of Yahweh. We find our needs met on a much deeper level when we receive the blessed eternal provision of Jehovah-Jireh.

And all of this only through Christ. Solus Christus.

If you do not know Him and are wading through the muck of this life, one step from becoming stuck fast in the miry clay, call upon His name and ask Him to revive your heart. Only through the Holy Spirit's quickening can you receive the gospel of Christ - but then, beloved, you are assured of your salvation for all eternity. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33, emphasis mine).

The fruit of the Spirit (including joy and peace) are not things we accomplish, but things that are added to us as we spend time in God's presence, feasting upon His Word. The Psalmist says "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me" (Psalm 23:4, emphasis mine). He does not expect to find a shortcut out of the valley, but because of the Lord's goodness and promises, His guiding staff and chastening rod, the writer walks steadily on without fear of evil. He expects to come out of the valley eventually and dwell in the Lord's house forever - what a marvelous promise!

You who know Him share in this promise. Endure for a little while, cling to His goodness, and experience His peace and joy by seeking earnestly after Him rather than seeking a way out of your valley. Beloved, you will be rewarded with an inheritance of the glorious riches that are found in Christ Jesus!

This is true contentment: to acknowledge that I am a sinner, deserving of naught but God's wrath; to see any blessing as overflowing my cup and any ill as nothing compared with the amazing grace by which I'm saved; to be so completely nourished by His Word and presence that the trials of this life hold no sway over my thoughts and feelings. Amen and amen.

Xxxxxxx, YY

Let the planning commence.

It should not surprise you to know that Joel has created a Google Map showing all of the Reformed churches within a ZZ miles radius of Xxxx Xxxxxxx.

More information will be forthcoming but for now...let there be much rejoicing!

Note: This entry has been de-identified. Do not be alarmed.

But Where??

We won't be able to learn where we matched until Monday morning at 10:00.

Great system, I know. No flaws whatsoever.

Stay tuned.

It's Ok, You Can Breathe Again

Joel and I are so pleased and humbled to announce the results of the match.

We matched!!!!!!

More accurately, I matched, but there's whole one flesh thing, so...

We are so much indebted to the grace of God that indeed our first thought and statement regarding this news is praise God! To Him be all of the glory, for there is nothing I've done to deserve an internship position more than the many who have not matched today. We will spend every day of our internship year thanking Him for the opportunity to be there, and for me to graduate in 2010!

News from my friends continues to trickle in. Some will match, and others will go on to the Clearinghouse on Monday. Please continue to pray for the many who have learned this morning that the emotional roller coaster is not quite over. We knew that not all of us would match, and in the final shake-down there are many who will be disappointed. This reality serves to humble me yet further, and brings me to my knees in absolute gratitude to the Lord. He is no less good and gracious to those who have not matched today, and my prayer is that they will go forward in faith that they are about to learn much of His love and providence.

Soli, soli, soli deo gloria

I don't know whether that works in Latin, but you get the idea.

Also, the title of this post made me think of that song "That, that I shall never breathe again (breathe again, breathe again)". I have to say, I did not expect to think of Toni Braxton on match day.

13.25 Hours and Counting

That's how much longer my cohort must wait to find out about our match statuses (stati?). There was much emotional flooding earlier today as we exchanged well wishes and promises of prayer, and we asked one another how we plan to spend our "last evening". Some of us intend to stay up all night and compulsively refresh the inbox. Some planned to sleep all afternoon in order to facilitate this. There are others (me!) who hope to sleep peacefully, perhaps with the aid of a few Unisom and a rum and Coke (I can choke one down, under the circumstances). The highlight of this plan is that whenever I take a sleep aid, I find it impossible to get up early the next morning. Thus, I can remain unconscious until the deadline for match emails, which is 10:00 a.m.

The downside would be if the email comes at 8:00 a.m. and I sleep through all the phone calls that will inevitably follow. It's a chance I'm willing to take.

Tonight Joel has bought my favorite ice cream and offered me his unconditional support. I get to choose our activities and even our music choice! He turned on some Bruce Springsteen and I asked for Indelible Grace. He wondered why. I said, I'd like to listen to something that is soothing to my soul instead of.....this. No offense to The Boss, but whatever song was up first had some kind of dead cat/harmonica thing going on that was problematic to my stress level.

Regarding the stress level: It's really not too bad, as long as nothing annoying or irritating happens to throw off my delicate balance. When I'm cognitively engaged, I know everything will be fine. It's when I'm distracted that the automatic thoughts kick in and I become slightly crazy.

I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband, whose top priority tonight is waiting on me (literally, he already scooped the ice cream and has Carcassonne set up, so I should probably get going) and loving me. Together we're standing on the promises of God and looking forward to whatever news the morning brings.

I'd like to take this final opportunity before the match news arrives to acknowledge that my internship is not the be-all and end-all of the world. It certainly feels like a huge deal, and impacts our lives quite significantly. But in the overall scheme of things, I am still just a lump of clay in the Potter's hands. I'm just a cog in the gigantic machinery of His sovereign plan. Whether I do or don't match, I'm just one tiny little thread in His tapestry. And I'm thankful for that! There are so many other, more important things going on in the world and even in my life. Knowing that there is not even one renegade molecule in the universe is comforting. I can trust the Lord with my life because I'm about as big as one precious little molecule to Him. He's got it all under control. And it's all about Him and for His glory.

I'm reminded of Shack, Rack, and Benny who were to be thrown into the fiery furnace because of their faith. My God is able to provide me with the internship of my dreams. But even if He does not, He is still the King of kings and I will bow to none other - not even to the stress and possible discouragement of this process. Truly, soli deo gloria!

Your prayers remain greatly coveted. I'll keep you posted!

25 Things You Will Wish You Could Un-Read

If you've been on Facebook in the last month or so, you're no doubt familiar with the "25 Things" meme that has been making the rounds. I've been tagged by a handful of friends who apparently are dying to learn 25 new things about me. So, for better or worse, I've trolled the dark recesses of my brain and come up with "25 Things" that just might make you want your two minutes back. Read on at your own peril.

1. I'm married to a man who could not be more perfect for me.

2. When I wear my large hoop earrings, black guys hit on me. Seriously. I'm wearing them right now.

3. I did not like onions until I was in college.

4. To get my current hairstyle, I took a photo of Posh Spice to the hair salon.

5. Joel and I are totally enmeshed with our cats and regularly have conversations with them.

6. I don't think there are 25 interesting things about me, so you might want to bail out now.

7. God willing, I will receive my doctorate in Clinical Psychology in May 2010.

8. The entire front left wheel once flew off my car while driving at a speed of about 55 mph. The lugs were completely sliced through. To this day, there is no satisfactory explanation for why this happened.

9. I knit like a fiend, and can even do cable patterns.

10. I have played the piano for 23 years now.

11. I am a huge nerd.

12. I display features of OCD, including a compulsive need to make sure the covers are centered before I can get in bed at night. Joel loves this about me.

13. The tastiest alcoholic beverage I have ever enjoyed was a Pomegranate Mojito from Uno Chicago Grill.

14. I got the new ESV Study Bible for Christmas and decided to read through it in a year. I'm currently in the book of Judges.

15. Reading the Old Testament is fabulous for my vocabulary. I say fun things like "go out and depart from my presence." See 11 above.

16. My sister will marry a boy on July 3, and it kind of freaks me out. In a good way.

17. There will always be a special place in my heart for Atari, my first video game love.

18. My favorite flower is the alstremaria, and I have no idea how to spell it.

19. I rule at Yoshi on the original NES.

20. One day I will write a book. I'm just not sure what it will be about.

21. I read books on theology for fun and can speak haltingly about major church movements in the past century.

22. My best Wii age is 22.

23. I love to do home renovations/remodeling, and have acquired mad skillz in the areas of applying texture to walls, doing those popcorn ceilings with my bare hands, patching bad walls, and covering doorknobs with a latex glove and masking tape. Thank you Michele.

24. I have a lot of dreams concerning babies. I hope that they are prophetic.

25. There is nothing more amazing than flying through waist-high mud on a four-wheeler.

The End. Hey, you can't say I didn't warn you.

Possibly Too Much Self-Disclosure, But The Whole Point is That I'm Crazy

I'm not sure why I do these things to myself, but this week has been a culmination of all the most stressful factors possible.

First of all, it is the Week of Pre-Reckoning. This is the period preceding the Days of Reckoning on Friday and Monday, wherein we learn our APPIC fate. So there is a wee bit of the stress. Even though it is all in the Lord's hands, it's like my brain still insists on short-circuiting all my happy coping strategies of prayer and focusing on the promises of God. I am experiencing significant psychomotor agitation and general feelings of physiological arousal. These are more commonly known as freaking out, in the bodily sense.

Also there are the hormones, which shall not be spoken of further. Suffice it to say that I elected to be a huge craving bundle of moods this week.

And finally, I sent my precious Mac to depart from my presence. [Aside: can you tell I just started the book of Judges as I read through the Bible? All sorts of catchy phrases from the Pentateuch peppering my speech these days...] My laptop did nothing worse than freeze up a few times in the last couple of months, and perhaps spontaneously reboot once or twice. And here I have practically disowned it, all in the name of more reliable performance and less anemic start-up sound. Oh and hopefully a replacement keyboard cover. New innards, new outards, I will hardly recognize Elizabeth's Mac when it returns to me.

So anyway, I am without several key coping mechanisms [laptop, emotional stability] during this leadup to the D.o.R. At least we have a bucket o' monster cookies and a Wii to see me through! Not to mention the bottle of rum we bought on a whim last week, before I remembered that I don't really care for rum and Coke. [I had a rum and Coke alongside a few slices of pizza for dinner, and made a horrendous face after my first sip. Me: "Ew, it's so strong!" Joel: "Not really." Me: "Really?" Joel: "If you wanted it to taste like Coke, you should have just had a glass of Coke." Me: "......"]

Also on Thursday evening I went to McDonalds for a double cheeseburger and fries at 10:00 at night. What am I, in college?

So the irrational choices are plentiful, and I'm sure they are not a sign of worse things to come during these last few days before D.o.R.


On Why I Don't Need a Valentine

It seems perhaps I was unclear in my original Valentine post about the reason for my negative attitude toward the holiday. I must say that I'm not opposed to celebrating love, romantic or otherwise. The consumerist thrust of the holiday is wearying and doesn't help its case with the Pearces. But the real reason for my disdain, as it was so aptly labeled is...

[just a moment as I struggle atop my soapbox....ah, there we are]...

Oh, I kid. About the struggle, not about the soapbox.

It's just that Valentine's Day, while a nice idea in many regards, ought to be needless and superfluous, oughtn't it? Similar to Mother's Day and Father's Day, which are marvelous opportunities to honor the parents in one's life, Valentine's Day seems to have been created by the greeting card, chocolate, and flower companies as the one day to make up for 364 days of neglect and dis-honor (or at the very least, un-honor).

Perhaps that's too harsh. I know not all of you men are running around treating your womenfolk like chopped liver. But why the need to pamper and treat her on one particular day, and the urgency of worrying that if you don't live up to her romantic expectations you can expect your name to be mud until the next gift-giving occasion?

It is my position that if we were properly loving and honoring our mothers, fathers, and objects of romantic affection, there would be no need to buy a card and 9,000 calories' worth of her favorite decadence (and why is that an expression of love anyway? "Here honey, maybe this year you can just glue this giant heart-shaped box to your--"...but I digress).

Hence my disdain for Valentine's Day. It signifies a lack of personal responsibility for working to maintain a relationship. And it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on romantic partners to top last year, or spend enough money to convey how much you REALLY love her. I disdain Valentine's Day because I see shallow, fragile relationships being celebrated as though they are strong. I see boorish husbands offering the day's goods to insecure wives who are right to wonder how much they are loved. I see selfish spouses monitoring how much they are receiving, with one foot out the door if they just don't feel it anymore. It BREAKS MY HEART. I guess what I'm saying is that the state of our marriages is tragic and shameful.

Don't get huffy, it's a generalization. I know your marriage is fabulous and intimate and oozes rainbows and happiness.

But the divorce rate is troubling and reveals a huge problem. For a nation that puts so much stock in a one-day romance binge, we are really missing the true definition of love.

Men, please love your wives every day. Pick up flowers for no reason on July 22 if you've got a romantic side that you just can't hide. More importantly, though, open her car door (if she'll let you - these days you never know. I think some men rightly avoid this for fear of drawing back a bloody stump), guide her through a crowd, hold her hand, know her struggles, fears, and joys. Pray with her and for her every day you're blessed to share with her. Ask her what she wants from you, what she needs. Give her that! Thank her.

Love her so well that on February 14, if you do bring home roses and pull out her chair at a fancy restaurant, it'll be because it's second nature. Love her so well that on February 14 she'll wake up with a huge smile on her face simply because it's you there next to her. Love her so well that she feels exactly the same on February 14 that she does on July 22 because you two are one.

See how I get all sappy about love? Sentimental holidays are bogus. It's the everyday choices we make that build intimacy and stockpile our love banks full of warm fuzzies. I look at my husband and, unless it's laundry day, I see a man who knows me in every sense of the word, good and bad, my gifts and my baggage, my virtues and my deepest darkest sin, and he loves me. I love my husband first of all because I promised to, and secondly because he demonstrates the husbandry of Christ in my life. He sacrifices for me, lays down his desires and his life, serves me, and provides me with amazing grace and forgiveness whenever I have need of it. I have never been shamed or unforgiven by him, no matter the gravity of my offense. I love my husband because, through my marriage to him, I better understand who I am as part of the bride of Christ.

Seriously, people, that's heady stuff. God has given me so much better than I deserve!

And in case you were wondering, on laundry day the tables are turned and it is he who is in need of amazing grace. Oh, the socks. I thank God for the mutual sanctification that occurs in our household.

The Honeymoon Might Be Over

I don't know whether you observe Happy Hallmark Day or perhaps its melancholy backside, Singles Awareness Day. Whatever your celebratory status, whether you plan to clink champagne glasses to another year of love, or drown your sorrows in a large vat of Hershey's Special Dark, don't get too awfully carried away. I can't even wrap my brain around the contrived ridiculousness of February 14. Your degree of worth and fullness of Love Bank do not suddenly and dramatically change tonight at the stroke of midnight. GOSH.


Do Joel and I intend to celebrate? WELL. It just so happens that in our living room at this very moment is a large, ostentatious basket of long-stemmed roses, inside of which lies a gold-plated brick of Godiva that, once consumed, will reveal a slightly smudged, brand-new Wii!! A gift straight from the heart of the husband of my youth.

Ok, so there is a Wii, but it's actually still sealed in its very mediocre FedEx box and has nothing fancy about it whatsoever. And it's not a gift from my husband, we decided to combine birthday budgets and spend it all two months early. We ordered it from Best Buy and it's sheer coincidence that it arrived the day before Valentine's Day.

Romantic and full of magic, our marriage is.

[Who am I, Yoda?]

So don't bother calling, and don't knock on the door. We will be MIA tomorrow, creating Miis and bowling like it's going out of style. Because it's not out of style yet. At all. And it couldn't matter less that tomorrow is Valentine's Day because we love each other with the fire of a thousand suns every single day of our lives. No fancy-pants flowers or cards needed.

Take THAT, Hallmark.

And yes, our thoughts toward Valentine's Day may change dramatically when we can afford fancy-pants flowers and cards. Right now we're too busy scraping together our nickels and dimes to pay off this Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...

Able, Baker, and Charles

Learn about the internship match, and come to a greater appreciation of the uncertainty involved as I contemplate my future. The match example below comes from the National Matching Services, Inc. website.


An example of the matching process involving three applicants and three programs is shown below. The Rank Order Lists submitted by programs and applicants in this example are as follows:

Programs' Rank Order Lists

Program A Program B Program C
(2 Positions) (1 Position) (1 Position)
1. Charles 1. Baker 1. Baker
2. Baker 2. Charles
3. Able 3. Able

Applicants' Rank Order Lists

Able Baker Charles
1. Program B 1. Program A 1. Program B
2. Program A 2. Program B 2. Program A
3. Program C

Match Process

The actual matching is done on a computer. However, the matching process itself could be completed as effectively by hand; the computer serves only to expedite the process. The computer is set up to process the lists in the following manner.

It first attempts to place Able into his first choice, Program B. Since Program B has an available position, Able is tentatively matched to Program B. Next an attempt is made to place Baker into Program A. Since Program A has an available position, Baker is tentatively matched to Program A.

The computer then attempts to place Charles into Program B. Program B's position is currently filled, but Program B prefers Charles to its current match with Able. Able is therefore removed from Program B, and Charles is tentatively matched into Program B.

Since Able has just been removed from a tentative match with Program B, an attempt is made to re-match Able. The computer first tries to place Able into Program B; however, this is unsuccessful because Program B's position is now filled with Charles, who is preferred by Program B. Next an attempt is made to place Able into his second choice, Program A. Since Program A still has an available position, Able is tentatively matched to Program A.

The matching process is now complete as each applicant's list has been processed, and each applicant is tentatively matched to the most preferred choice possible. Tentative matches now become final.

Note that in the matching process, no applicant or program can be forced into a final match until all applicant Rank Order Lists have been considered for the best possible tentative matches.


Did you follow all that? Now think about matching 3,759 applicants to 3,016 internship slots nationwide. Those were the figures from last year - 743 more people than positions. About 80% of those applicants were matched to an internship position, and 90% of positions were filled. 279 applicants withdrew prior to the match, which means that 2,749 out of 3,492 people matched.

I'm no statistician, but without knowing how my sites ranked me, I don't really see how we can calculate my odds of matching. Anyone out there good at math?

*Note: The match is for any doctoral level students pursuing a professional psychology degree that requires internship training prior to graduation. This includes clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology and the degrees of Psy.D., Ph.D., and Ed.D.. I'm in a Psy.D. program in Clinical Psychology.

Solidarity and Continuity

I've been enjoying a new Sara Groves album that was given to me for Christmas, and one song in particular has grabbed my heart this week. It's a new take on the old "When the Saints Go Marching In" motif, and it brings a tremendous sense of solidarity and continuity to bear on the idea of a great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us. The music has a driving undercurrent, and the lyrics are almost chantlike with a stirring rhythmic quality. As you listen, you get a sense that there is a steady pulse, a single heartbeat that unites the body of Christ into one ever-onward march. What an incredible testimony to the faithfulness of God through the ages, and what an awesome encouragement to us who believe ourselves to be afflicted and yet are sharing only the smallest part of the burden of the saints.

I'd like to share the lyrics in hope that it will do justice to the spirit that this song it conveys.

"When the Saints" ~Sara Groves

Lord, i have a heavy burden of all i've seen and know,
it's more than i can handle
but your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and i can't let it go
and when i'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought
i think of paul and silas in the prison yard
i hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
and when the Saints go marching in
i want to be one of them

Lord it's all that i can't carry and cannot leave behind
it all can overwhelm me
but when i think of all who've gone before and lived a faithful life
their courage compels me
and when i'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought
i think of paul and silas in the prison yard
i hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
i see the shepherd moses in the pharaoh's court
i hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord
and when the Saints go marching in,
i want to be one of them.

and when the Saints go marching in,
i want to be one of them.

i see the long quiet walk along the underground railroad,
i see the slave awakening to the value of her soul
i see the young missionary and the angry spear,
i see his family returning with no trace of fear
i see the long hard shadows of calcutta nights
i see the sister standing by the dying man's side
i see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
i see the man with a passion come kicking down that door
i see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
i see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

and when the Saints go marching in,
i want to be one of them.

Lord, how I long to be counted as one of your faithful! Adonai, grant me the strength to persevere through these tiny trials I face. Like the passing of the Olympic torch, help me to carry on the legacy of the faith and pass it to the next generation of your children. May I pass on a blessing.

But, between you and me, do you want to know the part of this song that pierced me through?

"i see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor, i see the man with a passion come kicking down that door."

I am that young girl. My friend, I was once so lost in my sin that I was huddled in the despicable brothel of my whoring with no hope of ever leaving. My soul was so dark within me that I had no desire even to turn toward the door. But beloved, praise the Christ of God that He is no gentleman! The instant that he kicked down that door, my heart leapt within me and I recognized my savior. Gently but without apology he dragged me from my sin and though I clung to it, he loosened my grip and gave me a desire for himself. Like Aslan, he breathed life into this heart of stone.

A heart that continues to leap at the reminder of his great grace even to me, a sinner.

A heart that is so prone to wander, prone to leave the one I love.

Take and seal it, Lord, seal it for thy courts above...and when the Saints go marching in, may I be one of them.