Tuesday, April 29, 2008

i walk with a limp.

I am way too sensitive.

Every once in awhile, I have a cup of coffee with a friend…we have been friends for a long time, and every time we get together, he challenges me to be a more honest person .Usually I leave stinging, with wounds raw from truth and conviction. But I admire his honesty and transparency, and the fact that no matter how hard the subject he will never shy away from telling me the truth. We talk about God, about faith, about relationships. We are on two different hemispheres when it comes to faith…but he constantly challenges me to take a reevaluate the reasons I believe what I do. Sometimes we get into knock-down, drag out arguments about abortion, about homosexuality, and the crucifixion. Sometimes we just talk about the things going on in the world. “Why did Jesus have to die?” “Is abortion still wrong, if it will save the child from suffering?” “How can you be a loving Christian if you are against gay people?” These kinds of questions keep my poor mind working overtime, leave me stuttering about sovereignty and sanctity of marriage, and the facts about late term abortion. Come to think of it, I speak “Christianese” pretty well as a second language. At least I think so.

But whenever I walk away from these conversations, I walk away with an emotional limp. My bruised “feelings” often leave me beating myself up about my lack of argumentative skills, my lack of evidence to support my faith, my apparent intellectual deficits. I always go in with my guns blazing, ready to defend MY faith, touting page after page of Lewis, Kierkegaard, Strobel… But nevertheless, I just leave with a limp. With hurt feelings, and my bruised ego. Yet there is something that keeps me coming back, that keeps me talking with him, a tiny part of me that holds onto the truth I know I find after our conversations. Because I realize that even though it stings, the prick that draws the blood of conviction also helps me bleed out complacency. My conversations constantly keep me aware of my beliefs, and prevent me from becoming stagnant of superficial.

The other day he said to me “Do you know whats going on in China, Grace? It’s a lot bigger than what is going on around us here in the US”. Did I know what was going on in China. No. Are you kidding me? Half the time I have no idea what is going on my own country, and definitely had no idea what was going on between China and Tibet. Once again…a limp. I walked away feeling, well, a little less than a good citizen. I had no clue there was ANYTHING going on between China or Tibet.

Limp. Limp. Limp.

It made me think of Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis, where he talks about Jacob wrestling the angel. He came away with a limp too. And it produced a stronger faith. Did it hurt Jacob? Probably. Maybe Jacob went to bed that night saying, “Man, I’m sooooo inadequate.”, that he didn’t measure up to God’s holiness, that he was so imperfect. Then comes the sting…the drop of “truth” blood…he WAS inadequate.

Limp Limp Limp.

His hip was broken, But his Faith? Strong.

And Jacob had a permanent reminder of the strengthening of his faith. A limp. So maybe my limping is leaving a scar on my pride, but its probably making me stronger.

Monday, April 14, 2008


1. Ten years ago I was...ten! sure I was going to be the next Michelle Kwan, no joke. I would have been too, if skating lessons weren't a hundred dollars an hour! Maybe I just wanted to wear the pretty costumes!

2 Things on my to do list today: 1) keep finding a job! 2) work out (which I did, I ran a mile and then did the elliptical!) 3) get to bible study on time!

3 Things I would do if I was suddenly a billionaire: 1) buy a house 2) pay my way through Nursing school! 3) go to uganda to do AIDS relief 4) Take the figure skating lessons! 5) Fly to Nashville to work at CCM

4 Bad Habits: 1) Biting my nails 2) Listening to music in the library at school too loud
3) Daydreaming in class, and listening to my ipod when I should be listening to the teacher

5 Places I have lived: 1) Incheon, Korea (duh), 2) Chico, Cali, 3) Medford OR

7 Things people don't know about me (quirky things about me): When I was little I really did want to be Michelle Kwan 2) I also wanted to be the next big wedding dress designer
3) I am deathly afraid of drowning, and water in general 4) I am actually a fast runner! When I was running seriously, I was at a 5 minute, 50 second mile.

8 Things that make my life superfabulous right now: 1) Jesus 2) BETH, BEN, TIM, ALLY 3) My family 4) My wonderful friends 5) My bible study group! 6) My ipod :)

okay i tag brenna and anne!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

keeping up with the jones'...

I had another conversation with a friend the other day, about how it struck me the other day how we are constantly trying to keep up with culture instead of engaging it. We make christian movies that "counter the filth in hollywood", we make music as an "alternative" to the mainstream music. We make t-shirts with slogans taken from big clothing companies, and replace half the words to make them 'christian". And what I want to know is...why? Why do we feel the need to counter the culture and why are we not leading it?

I was doing some research for an upcoming article for the magazine I write for yesterday. And one of the new bands I read about was touted as "the next hannah Montana". And then I heard them, and for the first thing, they don't even sound like Miley Cyrus. They might be in the same age bracket as her, but sound-wise they are not even close. And it just confuses me that they have to be advertised as the "next Hannah" to sell records when they should be able to sell records simply by being GOOD SINGERS! They won't be the next pint-size blonde billionaire, but they can excel in the industry by being quality musicians, by being really great singers..who just happen to sing about Jesus. Or maybe some bands, like the Fray, dont even sing about Jesus, but they sing music that is uplifting and well-done, and people recognize it for what it is: good music, made by Christians.

We need to stop reaching for the bar, and start setting it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

what kind of miracle are you asking for?

to continue audrey caroline's precious story, she passed away with her loving family yesterday. you can read more at http://www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com I encourage you to read the whole blog to about as far back as February 22nd.

As I was telling a friend, it made me stop and think about miracles. Here are some amazing christian parents who loved their daughter so much, and genuinely prayed for a miracle. And as Angie said, "One way or another, our daughter will be healed tomorrow. Praise God with me tonight for this truth." She recognized that a miracle would be worked in their family, regardless of the outcome.

And there was.

Sweet Audrey lived for two hours, in the arms of her mommy and daddy and sisters, when the doctors estimated she would not live at all. So they got a miracle.

So I wonder...are we asking for the miracle that we want....or the one that God wants to give us?
Or, like Angie and Todd, are we open to realize that sorrow can be a miracle too, for the way it pushes us to Christ?

I hope if you can't read the whole blog, you can at least read these two portions:

MARCH 5TH, 2008 "Kidding aside, I do have a passion for instilling a love of the Bible in my children. We have been discussing the story of Abraham and Isaac, and they are fascinated by the fact that Abraham would walk a mountainside in expectation of killing his son, so led by God's voice that one of the only details we learn is that he paused to praise God in the midst of his trial. As a sidebar, this is one of those stories that makes me giggle halfway through. For some reason, I can't stop picturing Isaac continually and more frantically asking his dad where the sacrifice is. In my head, he sounds like one of the Simpsons. "Hey dad, where's the sacrifice? Dad? Shouldn't we have brought up a ram or something? Dad?" I guess that shouldn't be funny, but it kind of is. In our little Bible, Abraham raises his knife while Isaac lays motionless, tied up in rope that his father's hands have wrapped around him. Suddenly, God shouts, "Stop!" and the boy is spared. The girls always hold their breath as we build up to that part, even though they know he will be okay. Usually, we have to remind them that he isn't going to die, because the suspense is too much to bear. I sliced an apple and asked Ellie to tell me the story as she stirred. She did a remarkably good job, but after she repeated God's words, she got quiet and looked at me like she had something else to say. Mommy?"
"What, honey?"
"You know that part where God yells stop?"
I nodded, half paying attention.

"I don't think He is going to say that to you."
My hands stopped moving and I looked at her eyes. Sad, knowing, feeling, see-into-your-soul eyes.
"I don't know that He is, Ellie."
For what seemed like forever, we just continued our motions in silence. I don't know that I can adequately describe what that moment was to me. It was just one of those times in life when you know that God is speaking.
I couldn't stop thinking about it. About the fact that it was his son. His hands. His rope.
And yet it was never his at all.
When people talk to me about what I am going through, they often use the word "trial." I think it is the right word. It was the same for Abraham; the rules have not changed in thousands of years. We listen, we praise, we walk in the direction of God's voice, and we obey. It is that simple.
Sometimes that means we get to unbind and celebrate.
Sometimes it means we don't.
I looked up the original Hebrew word for trial in one of my big fancy books (OK, one of Todd's fancy books) and I hope that as you read these words, you will know the way He quieted me in that moment. This is a direct quote.
TRIAL (Old Testament) noun: from the Hebrew word "sara" which comes from the root srh, which means, "to bind, tie up, restrict." Thus, the noun comes to denote a narrow place in life where one is bound or restricted...
I have carried this image with me for days, and am saturating myself in the truth that I discovered about what it means to be walking where I am. Immediately I thought of sweet Audrey, unable to grow, restricted, as bound and helpless as Isaac. It feels heavy, even though I know I am not responsible for the decision.
As we walk this "narrow place," I am reminded of the power of being still and submitting to the God I trust more than I ever thought I could. During these days, I walk closely, moment-by-moment with the God of the Universe. The God that chose Abraham and chose me.
I can't think of anyone I would feel safer with right now, because of course, the difficult, terrible, beautiful truth is that He Himself is not unfamiliar with the binding.
Jesus, sweet lover of my soul. I bear my wounds tenderly, with worship ever on my lips because You did the same for me...
"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed. " Isaiah 53:5-6"

Monday, April 7, 2008

prayers for a precious baby girl

My friend Matthew alerted me this amazing story, and this blog is a testimony of God's grace and sufficiency in the middle of suffering.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

roller rink memories...

I went to the roller rink yesterday...and it remained the same as when I was about 12...same lovely orange carpeting, and unfortunately, probably the same skates too...

My friend Kevin reminded me that there were many sodas to be won in the excellent, high quality games played at the roller rink. Such as the game "Survivor" where you must beat out every other skater in the rink to get to the "white line" which is virtually impossible unless you want to elbow or knee small children to get there. I am pretty sure that it must qualify as an extreme sport. Then there is the 'corner game", where you have to find a corner when the music stops. Daniel and Ryan figured their best strategy was to just stay in a corner the whole time. I picked the "yellow" corner and was in the first group kicked out. One little girl went to what she thought was a corner, and the announcer said "Just a reminder, the west wall is NOT a corner" and she burst into tears. All this fun costs you $8.50 plus your dignity, but you get a blue slurpee. Ah, memories..

Latest Review

In honour of the last print issue of CCM, which you can see here: http://www.ccmmagazine.com here is my latest review.

LOVE OUT LOUD (a'postrophe Records)

Her first studio album since 2005, Love Out Loud has been hailed as Jaci Velasquez’s “comeback album.” Indeed, the beloved Latin singer sidestepped the spotlight in 2005 and left many fans wondering when she would sing again.
With Love Out Loud, Jaci makes a strong return to the music circuit, offering several promising singles. “Nothing But Sky” resounds with her signature vocal and an utterly singable chorus, which Jaci says, “reflects the journey I have been on and where I am today.” Other notable tracks are “Jesus (The Way),” where delicate vocals carry the worship ballad and “A Likely Story,” a sweet narrative of Velasquez’s courtship with husband Nic Gonzalaz from Salvador. Jaci’s husband also joins her on “Por Escrito,” which offers listeners a breathtaking Spanish duet between the two. As the strongest and most daring track, it showcases their strong vocals, backed solely by a simple Latin-inspired guitar. Unfortunately, the zesty “Tango” is a bit too daring, with a chorus that says, “I think it’s time to tango/oh, oh/Sometimes you need to tango.” Even with its fiery Latin sound and Jaci’s sultry vocal, the song is oddly out of place on the otherwise strong disc. Still, fans will most likely be delighted with the fresh songs from Love Out Loud.
- Grace S. Cartwright

Friday, April 4, 2008

out from the behind the altar

"I meet so many people who have superwhatever rattling around in their head. They have this person they are convinced they are supposed to be, and their superwhatever is killing them. They have this image they picked up over the years of how they are supposed to look and act and work and play and talk and it’s like a voice that never stops shouting in their ear.And the only way not to be killed by it is to shoot first.Yes, that is what I meant to write.You have to kill your superwhatever."- rob bell

I was reading in Matthew yesterday, about how Jesus was telling the disciples to serve (23:11), and it struck me that Jesus was a servant both in attitude and ACTION. So i started looking through matthew, looking at the words connected with Jesus' name; the things He did.This is what I found:-Jesus GAVE (26:26)Jesus MOVED (back to his hometown after John the Baptist's arrest to take up where he left off)-Jesus TAUGHT (5:1-2)-Jesus REACHED (8:3-4)-Jesus REASSURED (9:20)-Jesus BLESSED (14:18)-Jesus DIDNT HESITATE (14:31)-Jesus HEALED (19;1-2)and the thing is, like rob bell says, we have this picture of servanthood, in our heads, that we need to be in africa or uganda to serve, that we need to give away our cars and live in a dirt hut (which maybe would help), but Jesus DIDNT HESITATE. He was a servant in the way He did things.

thats why his name is attached to verbs. not adjectives. and like I told a friend today, sometimes even christians (myself included), can decide that, since we cant do something huge, we will just be silent. and like I told him, we hide behind our altars and we crouch down in our pews. and the world forgets who we are. in order to see real change, in order to watch a revolution, in order to experience real love and to BE real love, we have to start acting. and it has to be real. No more super-christians. God has been speaking into my life to pray for real, not just words that sound right, but words breathed out of scripture, words that are not what I think God wants to hear, but the words pouring out of love for a God big enough to understand my messy spirituality.

"Here's what I want you to do. Find a quet place where you won't be disturbed. where you wont be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and quietly as you can. The focus will shift from you to God and you will sense His grace. the world is full of so called prayer warriors, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. dont fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with. He knows you better than what you need." -Matthew 6:5-13 (message trans)

Here's to being real. Crawl out from behind the altar.