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I knew that Paul Young was at 7|22 a few weeks ago because my good friend LV Hanson met with him while he was in town. However, I have only in the last twenty-four hours been told about the content of Young’s message at 7|22. This one point alone astounds me, and begs the question: How did news of this not reach me? How was this not on the Nightly News with Brian Williams? How has every blogger in the country not mentioned this?

The point is this: Young says he does not ask God to bless his efforts. He says he is finished trying to get God to follow him, but rather is committed to identifying where God is working and praying that God will allow him to be involved there. I can barely even respond to that. Wow.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who said something I’m now stewing on (in a good way, not an angry way) – she said we all know God is the Provider, but how often do we allow God to be our Provider in times of need? We know God is the Comforter, but the scene changes a bit when we allow Him to be our Comforter in times of distress. In what other ways do I know about God without really knowing God, and what does it take to turn that corner?

I really, really, really love my budget. I do understand what this says about me. Namely, that I’m a supergeek and deserve to have my glasses snapped in two by someone taller and older than me. It’s worth it to me.

I got a lot of “to boots” by marrying Mike. I got a man who loves me, and a man who shows me and tells me he loves me to boot. I got a man who is committed to taking care of me and any future children we will have, and a man who does so systematically with a budget to boot. Our budget is a multi-tabbed juggernaut of If-Then goodness and it keeps our family in line and is slowly, methodically preparing us for any financial situation that may come about.

I like to buy things. Whether it’s a girl thing or just a human thing, I enjoy having things and the best part about our budget is that – contrary to what everyone thinks about budgets – having a budget means I can buy anything I want. Literally. If it’s legal (and that’s just a moral thing I have; you may not be bound by such constraints), I can buy it. It may take fifteen years to save for, but I know that if I want to book a seat on the next commercial flight to the moon, I can do it (which I plan to do). Right now, we have saved almost enough to buy two cars outright. Meaning no car loan. Mike bought a hot new GPS on Saturday and 1) he didn’t feel guilty about it, and 2) I wasn’t angry about it. I’m thrilled, in fact. We bought all-new living room furniture last fall and there wasn’t the first angry word spoken about how much we spent on it. Granted, we lived in our house two and a half years before we had new living room furniture, but that’s how it works. If you’re reading this and you want advice on your budget, please e-mail me and I’ll be giddy to help.

We had a smashing weekend celebrating our niece Caroline’s fifth birthday. I was out of town for her birthday last year, and the difference between the third birthday and the fifth is striking. On her third, it still felt like a party for a baby, but this was a little girl’s birthday and it was a ton of fun. Surprising her with balloons and flowers and cookie cake and presents she really gets into is supremely gratifying. The biggest hit present-wise was a karaoke machine and Disney Princess karaoke CDs. The microphones hardly got a break all weekend, with back-to-back Colors of the Wind and Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo. Watch your back, Carrie Underwood.

The best part is being with family all weekend. Along with Mike, my parents and brother are my favorite people in the world, and I am seriously fortunate to also have some incredible in-law family. We have lots of fun together, and it’s always so relaxing and fulfilling to spend time with people you love and who love you. I know how lucky I am to have two families to love and be loved by.

Some of the best insights come when I hear things I’ve heard a hundred times before, but said in a new way or at just the right time, those things really take hold. This morning at church, Rodney Anderson said, “Our job is not to make a great church, it’s to make a great world.” Amen and amen. Of course the church should be excellent and we want to draw people in, but even more than that, we have to be going out as well, “in-breaking” into groups and communities and people who may never see the inside of our church.

It’s the Friday List of Things I Can’t Get Enough of. I know you’re all excited.

  • Mike Nelson tops the list. What follows (today and subsequent Fridays) is in no particular order.
  • Ken Burns documentaries. If you haven’t seen The Civil War, you are seriously missing out.
  • Homemade Pizza Margherita – crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and salt. That’s it.
  • Bill Bryson‘s writing. Stop what you’re doing right now and read A Short History of Nearly Everything.
  • Stats.

I started about 18 months ago reading through the whole Bible. I know a lot of people do it within a year, but it’s taking me a touch longer. Curiously enough, I started out just reading Exodus, but Exodus was so intriguing (and it ends like a CSI season finale with the Israelites just wandering in the desert) that I had to keep reading into Leviticus (which, thanks to the Message, can be mesmerizing), and before I know it (18 months later), I’m reading Malachi. Which is my favorite book right now. I know – what a bandwagon-hopper-on-er I am.

How can you not love a book in which God says, “You profane me when you say [about worship] … ‘I’m bored – this doesn’t do anything for me.’ You act so superior, sticking your noses in the air – act superior to me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! … Do you think I’m going to accept it? This is GOD speaking to you!” (Mal 1:12-13 MSG)

Number one, holy cow, God sounds a lot like mothers of adolescents. I half expect the next line to be, “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” Number two, I’m pretty sure I’ve said those very words before with respect to worship – “This doesn’t do anything for me.” Uh oh. My distress, however, comes not just from the prospect of God shaking His finger at me, but from my questions about worship as a whole. I’ve said those words while the worship band plays “Awesome God” on many occasions, but isn’t worship more than singing? This is going to take some processing. I think next time I’ll stop singing for a while and reflect on what worship really means. And try not to roll my eyes.

Mike and I have been talking a lot lately about kairos moments, quality moments when you really get it and everything makes sense, and how we don’t typically camp out on those long enough (thanks to Mark Cole for this insight). A lot of the time, we experience it – maybe a breakthrough while reading Scripture, or maybe it’s the death of someone you love, or maybe it’s just realizing that basil and tomato really, really taste good together – and then we move on. Thinking, essentially, “Well, that was great [or horrible, depending on the situation]. I really learned a lot from that. Now, what next?

Part of my reason for writing here is that I want to learn to hang out in those moments for longer. Even if it’s just a few minutes longer, as long as it takes me to type something about it, it will at least stay in my mind and heart a little bit more. And maybe all of those kairos moments will one day add up to something substantial, like a book that helps women get through the end of college and those first few years of single independence. Maybe it will be a book that helps newly married couples learn to live together and serve one another and grow a strong, steady, abiding love. Maybe it will be a book about food and family and home and how it’s all intertwined. Stay tuned, that’s all I’m sayin’.

Mike had a rough day yesterday, and mine was just okay, so the dinner conversation was a touch on the low side. I’ve been trying to figure out how to help him unwind at home after he’s had insane days at work, but he took the cake tonight, so to speak. As we were cleaning up from supper, I asked what he wanted to do tonight. Standard responses are either 1) watch something we’ve TiVo’ed, 2) read, 3) just talk, or 4) play games. Tonight he said, “Take you out for gelato. We both have the mullies [family word for when you’re some combination of sad and bored and frustrated and don’t know what you want] and we just need to go on a date.” So we went down, in the rain, and sat on the porch of the gelato shop as we ate.

He loves me so well. We were both a bit ughhh, and I love that just being together brings us back up again. Sometimes all you need is a little nudge to get out of the mullies.

In working at Catalyst, I’ve had the opportunity to be around some incredible people. Some of them are famous, some of them will be famous before long, and some are just amazing souls you may never meet this side of the River. One of the best things about being in this position is when I interact with someone who is a pretty big name but, if you didn’t know she’d written several books, you’d never know she had any fame whatsoever.

Margaret Feinberg is one of those people. She and her husband, Leif, were at the office today and spent some time chatting with our team about church, the state of culture, and smart cars. She and Leif are doing incredible things, and she’s big time, and they have influence all over the place, but there isn’t one iota of entitlement about her. Speaking with her is like talking to a good friend; in fact, you feel like you’re good friends by the time you’re done chatting, even though she probably had to leave to go speak to 10,000 people at a conference. See photos from our conversation here and here.