September 2006 Archives

re-defining church

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I believe in the gathering of god's people. Conversations (in gig harbor) was such a gathering. However, the unconventional nature of this kind of fellowship of believers flies in the face of the majority of thought regarding what the "Church" should look like. I do feel the tectonic shift and the roll of the earth even as we sat, 16 women, faced with a simple question of...

how do you define church?

I wanted to shout..."It's this"! but remained quiet as discussion went from the ways in which one attends church... to accountability, to... "it's not about you". All important comments on the stages in which most North American churches ebbs and flows, but the core question which was placed at our feet was...

how do you define church?

Maybe why a discussion like this is so elusive is because, simply...

church is being redefined.

We are those that sit primely on the timeline of church history and need not look around us and recreate what was, or create a modified version of what was, but must look instead, outside of ourselves.

Until just a few years ago I had never been prompted by my own religious traditions to truly examine the history before luther. And I dare say most evangelicals (outside of seminary grad school) have either, or unfortunately ever will. But as the world expands and borders dissolve what it means to be a fellowship of believers has/must/will expand as well. The very definition is as broad as the world but coming to terms with that broadness is very hard for some people.

Maybe there is an underlying question that should be asked. Something that would prompt a response more foundational to the core of faith. Maybe instead of asking, "how do you define church"? we should ask...

What does Christ require?

Picture the being who for the sake of the patriarchal historical context in which he was deposited was packaged in the form of a thirty year old virgin man. Try to picture the being inside this package. Christ. Strip away the many ways in which Christ has been depicted over history...

the sad eyed pleading Christ,

the white-robed fluffy shepherd Christ,

the long-haired historically inaccurate anglo-Christ, get the idea.

Try to strip away these depictions, these notions that are comfy because they are familiar or understandable or touchable, well packaged. Instead, picture...

the being.

The being that is a third of God.

The being that is beyond cultural context.

The being that is neither male nor female.

The being that is the foundation of the "Christian" faith.

Now imagine sitting in the presence of this being and ask the question with your whole heart...

What do you require?

Imagine that.

When we look at the text that has been passed down through generations the vehicle in which the answers came, the package that delivered wisdom to humanity (the thirty year-old virgin man) being Christ answered a question posed to him, "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law"?

He answered,

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, Love your neighbour as yourself.'" Matt 22:36

Luke 10:25 has him answering a different question with the same answer. The question being "what must I do to inherit eternal life"?

So might this be the answer to the core question of "what do you require"? And if that is the answer how does it influence every other question one can possibly ask? Like...

How do you define church?

When I reflect on the great "being", sitting in the presence of that being, and asking eternal questions, I get mental whiplash picturing what Church has become because of the vast disparity that seems apparent between what is trapped inside a building and what is let loose. But I no longer feel paralyzed by the shock, left only to criticize. Instead I can reflect on the wisdom that came from the "being" and go to the core. How then do those of us (so many many of us) of good conscience live out that command and truly love? So many of us have left the buildings because the "being" isn't there anymore. And the building was never meant to contain it anyway.

We are the church.

a few pics from gig harbor

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I took woefully few photos while at such a visually inspiring place, but the point was not to be working. I gave myself permission not to be "on" which was a great thing. I did snap a few pics the last morning but in my haste I did not get a pic of everyone. Conversations continued even then, unprompted, over breakfast and that lovely view.

a view from the porch of the bed and breakfast.


Meredith, Heather, and Becky.


Grace, Lesa, and Deborah.


the quilt.


ripples in the water; when women let loose

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It always takes me a good chunk of time to sort through my own thoughts after a concentrated time with people. And when they are extraordinary people...

well, let's just say my head is about to explode.

But to not sort through my jumbled thoughts, to launch back into life full-bore without reflection, to simply fall back into routine without identifying what was gleaned would be tragic and irresponsible. Or at the very least missing an opportunity.

So as I sit here in the Seattle airport, longing to be in the arms of my husband, flashes of the faces of the beautiful women that I was so privileged to share time with play like a movie in my head. I am struck with how powerful a thing it is to gather in a setting of trust and share stories. Sounds so simple and therefore it risks being devalued (maybe that is why we live in a culture of individuals) but for me the experience of the last few days helped to galvanize my next steps, or rather the belief in my next steps that seem to be laid out in front of me. The conviction of those steps were affirmed.

I now know (but will still probably need to be reminded) that simply being intentionally within the flow of my life is what I am meant to do. For probably a year I struggled with why god would call our family OUT of ministry (as we knew it) but was certain that it WAS god's calling. Seeing the unhealthy demand for over-involvement within the structure of what we called church simply flew in the face of what (I think) Christ ever required. Tapering from big quantity-motivated ministry involvement to not even attending a local church seemed radical, but the shift of focus to family time, rest, and joyful experiences has been like being inside the womb. Hidden in that secret place where no one can see the growth, and yet what incredible growth there is! I admit that I am smack in the middle of a culture that judges value in measurement, and I have worked hard to pull out those tentacles of thought so that I myself don't judge worth by measure. Time with other women reminded me that our value is beyond measure.

We truly are, each one of us, like tumbled stones (shiny from our lived lives and each other) thrown into a still pond. As we all travel back to our own homes I imagine these stones thrown at each coast of a vast pond, and the ripples that we cause fan out beyond our own visions.

The things we do will cause ripples that we will never see.

But those ripples change the world.

Our gathering has helped me embrace the idea that even a single word of encouragement might be the thing that god requires in the moment. And if I am distracted by a larger more glamorous, more documented, more programmed, quantifiable thing that looms just ahead and miss being present in that moment with that word of encouragement I may have skipped right past...


and that would be more than tragic.

So now I reflect on the idea that my convictions and actions, a simple stone's throw...

cause ripples in a pond

that delight the spirit.

Thank you amazing women for three days of laughing, crying, and empowering one another. Each of you are a blessing and a force. Let's go out and make some waves!

off to conversations

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Wee hour sunday morning I sit here while my love slumbers. In a few hours I am on a plane off to spend some inspiring time with some amazing women and my friend
sally. As exciting as that is I always have the worst (with a capital W) time being away from my man. But fresh ideas and new inspiration awaits as iron sharpens iron in this unique gathering which I feel so privileged to be a part of.

I cheated on monday and painted a bit. Somewhat out of character for me but it feels good to break your own rules. I rail against authority most of the time, but when you are your own boss who do you rebel against, yourself?

Anyway, I start off my friday artist date with the typical items. Coffee, blog, and some Sting. The coffee gets the creative juices flowing and prepared me for the unveiling of
naked women on Daniel's blog.


One of the perks of going to a real art school is the experience of drawing the nude figure, something that every self respecting artist needs for a well rounded education.

I know. I did it too. Only my first model was male. And I wasn't prepared either.

So I had to chuckle a little at Daniel's new post because I involuntarily relived a moment from my own experiences while picturing my very modest son faced with this situation and probably having to force down a blush.

But his work is good and so I also have to boast. And I love it that I can get a glimpse of his own journey via blog. What would we do without it?

So now I shift to my own artistic journey and continue with spirit wind, or should I call it super hero girl?

Although, my girl is fully clothed.

Thin places are taking on a new dimension as the larger portal is new, and my girl seems to be flying outside the grid. Hmmm... wonder what frued would have to say about that.

Today, paint in hand I will dive into the portal and see what comes out.

friday morning where she is at


sheeeees baaaaaack

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Somewhere between entertaining angels and hunkering down to work I missed it. My good friend Jen Lemen has returned to the blog world. After an extended and intentional break she is now live again with adventures in her precious neighborhood, writing, and mothering the wild things. Jen, we are so glad you are back!

desk from hell; organized chaos

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Tuesday, the evil non-day that is neither the middle of the week of the beginning. But today I am putting planet chores aside to tackle the desk from hell. It needs to be done and frankly it will just make me feel better. I would love to say that my desk rarely looks like this, that I am super organized and at the end of everyday it is clean and pristine ready for another day.

But I would be lying.

My world exists more in chaos. Organized chaos, I'll admit, because if you asked me to find a receipt from a purchase from two weeks ago you would have it in your hand in two shakes. But if outward appearances meant anything, my desk would make one of those helpful (but annoying) people from Organized Living run away in terror, bound for the nearest walk-in therapist.

But there is a point when the "organized" part of the organized chaos begins to get overtaken by the "chaos" threatening to unravel into sheer and utter chaos.

Time to tackle the mess.

Filing, tossing trash, putting stuff away, it is a great activity for the evil non-day that is tuesday. It will leave me with a sense of accomplishment and actual accomplishment.(yes those are two different things) Plus it will keep me from being engulfed by the emotion plucking day. And to boot, my desk might look like my dining room table.

Hey it might sound crazy, but it comes very close to fitting the classification for a spiritual discipline.


10 crosses

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This was produced in Daniel's second week of school.

The 10 Crosses of Christianity

pretty cool.

It is very quiet in the house today. Bryan was busy all weekend recording
Jimi Calhoun and so the house was filled with music, people coming and going to record their portions of the various tracks, emerging from the tiny room that is his studio now and then to chat and laugh. Now all is quiet except for the host of sleepy crickets that have found their way into our house and are chirping as I sit here now. It has been a rare week for me in the amount of extroverted activities and so I am contemplating a low key day. There is work to be done but I am not so motivated and yet I know too much reflection after so much company may launch me into melancholy, or at least missing Daniel. Although the boy called twice over the weekend just to talk which made this mother very happy. Missing typically happens on mondays anyway because after spending time together on the weekends I always miss my husband as he has to go off to work outside of our house. My work takes me no further than my studio downstairs, a mere few steps taken in bare feet. A very short commute. I am used to missing my husband on mondays but the contrast of quiet is even greater today.

I stop my blogging for a moment to send him an icard, something we do to each other on such a regular basis that there are few designs left that we haven't sent. Anyway, I beat him to it this morning. Clicking the send button and hearing the familiar swoosh sound that heralds the email send I am acutely aware of the quiet. Even the acorns from our giant oak tree that were aggressively raining down on our roof yesterday making a horrible racket have slowed down to the occasional "ping".

I like the quiet. Although it is very hard to get to the true quiet (right now there is a plane flying overhead). Somewhere below the surface of all the sounds that we have trained ourselves not to hear is the true quiet. It is very hard to get to. I got to experience it while in the bahamas. While sitting next to still water I actually heard the hum of the motor in my camera. In fact it seemed loud there in the true quiet. I remember even being a bit uncomfortable with it at first.

But now I sit here in this quiet (my hard drive humming at my feet) enjoying the moment.


Somewhere I blinked and the time was over. Amazing for this introvert. Most of our time was spent comparing notes on our lives as business owners and mothers with kids just starting college and what/where god is in all of it. There is something to be said for this kind of support especially when some of what life dishes out can (and will) knock you off balance and on your butt. Although we live on two opposite ends of the country, somehow over the years developed (unpredictably) a friendship that connects on some rare levels.

A seriously gifted designer, and gracious early participant (artist) in the planet, Anita is one of those rare people who just gets me without me needing to go into huge explanations (although we did talk non-stop for five days). She had me laughing til crying. She kindly reminded me of one of my ignored mondo beyondo items (getting my work into a gallery before the end of the year-"you know Blair, It IS already september"). And she makes a mean butternut squash soup and asparagus/procuitto appetizer. But we wont talk about the event that almost caused an auto accident(shhhh I promised!) involving her rental PTCruiser and some bad crab salad. Use your imagination. One night we (Bryan, Anita, and I) even got to watch "the worst movie ever made" and laughed our heads off at a mutual friend's expense (sorry Jimmy ;-) Do you smell bleach?

All in all it is a relationship like this that makes you remember what can take place when "two or more are gathered" and how the spirit shows up in unplanned places like your dining room table.

Anita, you are smart and beautiful and I miss you already. Thanks for such an unforgettable time, we have to do it again once you are in france (don't think I won't hold you to your own Mondo Beyondo). I hope the time blessed you as much as it did me.

Love you girl!

Here we are at Union Station, before the sad goodbyes.


artist date; spirit wind


My artist date had me returning to the thin places style once again. Propelled and inspired by Anita's sisterly input and her gift of this canvas (and it's neat shape) I got a spark to start this piece.


food for thought

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Good food is not a rarity at our house. I guess the the dinner hour was given ritual status due to the combination of our intentionality as a family to not be over-involved and our love of food. Honestly, until this week I hadn't really reflected on what chain of events, or decisions evolved into a near ritual respect to such a simple thing as dinner. Upon reflection it strikes me as odd that the hyper-consumer culture is what has influenced even the biblical concept of communion turning even that into a fast food. It is intriguing to me that in the interest of bending toward the culture we have thrown out the meat (pardon the pun) of the meaning of "communion". At least we haven't resorted to drive through churches. Yet.

But this week we got to spend some of this ritual time in true communion with friends. Dinner became even more meaningful with the great conversation and honest sharing over some of our favorite dishes, good wine, and yummy desert.

In the pursuit of creative inspiration, comparing similar seasons of life, and an excuse to take a break from work, my good friend Anita came and stayed with us. Rescuing me from thinking too much on how much I missed my son, turning my attention instead to healthier thoughts of the "what next" in our lives, we spent days leisurely chatting, eating, painting, eating and gathering wisdom and inspiration from each other's perspectives. Both of us with our own businesses and able to work and visit made for a unique time. A year of structured small-grouping could not have fostered a better bond than just hanging out together like we did. Although we fully intended on venturing out into the sights of DC neither one was so motivated and before I knew it, time was flying by.

This particular night it was Bryan's london broil that we gathered for.


why I haven't blogged


Why I haven't blogged in a week.




he is doing great

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This makes me so happy. It is great to hear that things are going so well. What would we do without blog?

These are the "commons", the freshmen apartments at MICA. The buildings create a closed circle with a giant courtyard in the center.


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2006 is the previous archive.

October 2006 is the next archive.

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