Monday, March 31, 2008

From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

The following quote comes from a book that I recently finished.

I am thankful to my friend Julie for helping me learn how to relax. I won't ruin the book for you, because its worth a read (even for us adults); but, basically the end conversation is between an elementary aged girl, Claudia, and an 80+ aged woman, Mrs. B. E. F.

In the book they both had a lot to learn from each other:

Claudia said, "But, Mrs. Frankweiler, you should want to learn one new thing every day. We did even at the museum."

"No," I [Mrs. F] ansewred, "I don't agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

This made me think. How about you?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I have to bust out the Orange story again! I'm not sure if I have posted this on my blog already, but I have shared it with several people... and it never gets old to me.

I have rediscovered my favorite food... ORANGES!!! I think it happens about this time each year. The wonderful sweet and tangy fruit is in season and I am reminded of God's goodness.

In high school I was having a real bad morning one day and was frustrated because I didn't have my favorite cereal or normal apple to eat... all we had was oranges... so I ate one and it blew my mind how delicious it was... the rest of my day was fabulous and I actually wrote several essays about how God reminds of his goodness through simple things.

In college I had an aversion to flowers (I am allergic to fragrances) and too many boys sent me flowers that, to me, were meaningless gestures of their unwanted affection. So, for my birthday my roommates gave me a bouquet of oranges to symbolize how much they cared for me. I will never forget that day!

Today, I just got off the phone with my brother and admitted to him that God has been rocking my world a little bit recently and I have been praying for a reminder that I don't need to doubt, but to trust... then I got a hankerin' for an orange.

Yep, it was delicious! God is good :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Adventures of Matt and Traci

My husband and I have a new hobby... We like to go on long walks through our neighborhood and go in houses that are under construction.

I hope this isn't illegal.

Someday we would like to build our own house.

Its fun to gather ideas.

It also helps because we can live our house fantasies through others and not have to build a monstrosity for ourselves.
I still haven't decided if this is a good or bad thing.

These are some of the pictures from our latest exploration.


I listen to KLOVE on my way to Sports Conditioning in the mornings. I can't knock it too badly because I listen, but sometimes the things that people say just annoy me.

So, today 3 days after Easter... Jon says, "Good morning. Its the 26th day of March in the year of our Lord. 273 days until Christmas."

This last phrase is what bothered me... seriously, we are already moving on? How about 3 days after Christ rose?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter

He is Risen!!! IN DEED!!

Yes, this is the time of the year that we celebrate our risen Lord. I get pumped about what God has done and is doing at this moment each year. Sometimes I loose sight of God's power, but want to and need to be reminded of it on a regular basis.

Several reflections...

Last night I was having a conversation with my family and we were considering if the empty tomb was the starting point of our faith and celebration how our lives might look differently. This would be contrasted with cross being the starting point....

Consider this, 325 days a year we celebrate freedom, we focus on what God has done, his power, and redemption of the world. We consider the the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and the lives of those around us. We look at the last chapters of the gospels as a starting point...

In these Jesus says...

"As my Father has sent me, so I am sending you."
"Peace be with you."
"Go, make disciples of all nations."
"All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me."
"Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you."
"You will do even greater things than me."
"You will perform miracles, heal the sick, cast out demons."
"My Holy Spirit is with you."

Then Lent becomes the time of 40 days when we fast and pray and lament and consider the cross, we focus on our need for continual redemption and relate the sorrow and suffering of Christ.

Does this make you think any differently?
What does Easter mean to you?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bird's Nest

Yes, this is a Winter wreath that is still up on our door as we are nearing Easter.

A little, back story is necessary... last winter we had a few visitors at our house... birds who flew in as we opened the door. I screamed and hid and Matt chased them out the window.

This year, I realized why they liked coming in so much... they live on our door.

We are in a little dilemma because we don't want to take the wreath down, but I don't want to have to enter our house by the back door...

Any suggestions?

Friday, March 21, 2008


Last night we held a Seder meal service to identify with and reflect on what Jesus and his disciples would have done the day before Jesus was crucified many years ago.

I had the privilege of preparing the meal for us. I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt for two days... and then I hoped and prayed that the night would be meaningful for all who were there.

Honestly, for me, the preparation was more meaningful than the two hours actually going through everything. I think it was because I was a bit anxious about everything running smoothly (talk about Martha and Mary moment).

This morning though I started reflecting on it all... I took some time to read through John (ch. 13-19). I had read these passages many times in my life, but I can't recall putting them in the context of night before Jesus was crucified. It made so much more sense to me that Jesus would be having an intimate conversation with his disciples.

The disciples would have just recalled, bitterness, redemption from slavery, the need for hope.
They would have just experienced service from their king, confusion about who Jesus was and is, the promise of the holy spirit, an new command: Love one another.

Jesus promised them peace, he promised them that the world would hate them, he promised them truth.

There is a lot to this story. One of my friends recently told me that it sounded like a ghost story. How can we believe it?
Pilate even asked Jesus, "What is truth?"

Its important for us all to reflect on the willingness of Jesus obedience to His father and the promises that come along with following him... if we do believe...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A speech to listen to

I'm sure you have heard commentary on or even watched or read what Barack said yesterday.

After driving back from Winston I turned on my TV last night to see the speech. It was powerful, well done, and to me, seemed honest.

I do NOT claim to be an expert on politics or on this whole issue, but I there were several parts that made me nod my head and say, "this is what we need to hear."

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

This may not be something that is a "good move" politically, but to me this shows that there is more to people than one portion of their lives. I want a president who can see complexities in people and pull out the good.

He spoke about coming together, about understanding the other, about moving beyond spectacles, about hope for more than division, about the real struggles, anger, fear, and grief that people of all racial back grounds have felt and feel.

Then this morning on CNN , I heard one commentator say something like , "His speech was a discourse that didn't just address his association with Reverend Wright, but it asked the American people to look at themselves."

The commentator said this like it was a NEGATIVE thing... to consider our part in the system of fear and anger and oppression and division. All of us, white, black, brown DO have a part to play in it.

We want a scape goat, we want to point fingers at those who take extreme positions. It makes us feel better about ourselves.

What are your thoughts?

I'm all fired up

There will probably be a few posts today because I have so much going through my mind, which stems from several recent events.

The first one is about Human Trafficking. Yesterday I went to a seminar in Winston-Salem put on by the Salvation Army.

I have followed the problem of modern day slavery for a little over a year now and at times have gotten overwhelmed or lost emotional connection with the plight of millions. Yesterday, I didn't learn anything new, but I did start to see sexual slavery in a new light.

The biggest thing I took away was the subtle ways that we all feed into the system that perpetuates demand for buying sex, buying sex from individuals who are powerless to walk away, who don't have a voice, who are struck with fear, who know nothing else, who are objects of hate, who are objects of lust, who are crying on the inside.

I am a part of the problem.
You are a part of the problem.
We cannot escape it.

The porn industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Strip clubs and fantasies may seem innocent enough, but looking beneath the surface and seeing how so much is connected to lies, deceit, and injustice might teach us all a thing or two.

It only takes a few clicks on the internet to find web sites full of hate and the ability to use and buy women like they are an item at the super market.

But, we feed into it daily.
Some of my favorite TV shows subtly reinforce our lust.
Some of our radio stations make fun of it.

There is a lot of work to do. I think it starts with a look at our own lives.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easy to say "how could they?"

Grace for the Moment today says,

Because of His Gift

"I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death." Philippians 3:10

Trace the path of this Savior, the God who swapped heavenly royalty for earthly poverty. His bed became, at best, a borrowed pallet-- and usually the hard earth. He was dependent on handouts for his income. He was sometimes so hungry he would eat raw grain or pick fruit off a tree. He knew what it meant to have no home. He was ridiculed. His neighbors tried to lynch him. Some called him a lunatic. His family tried to confine him to their house. His friends weren't always faithful to him.

He was accused of a crime he never committed. Witnesses were hired to lie. The jury was rigged. A judge swayed by politics handed the death penalty.

They killed him.

And why? Because of the gift that only he could give.

After reading this, I was bit saddened and angry at all of "those people" back then who were "so mean" and "short sighted". How could "they" do these things to Jesus?

Then I realized. I am no different. I am selfish, swayed by getting ahead. I carry fear and insecurity that inhibits good judgement. I consider the teachings of Jesus too extreme to orient my life around. I confine him to certain areas of my life. I miss out the message of freedom.

We have a part in contributing to the cycle of death and bondage.

He still offers us His Gift... Grace... Forgiveness... Redemption...
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

A short Disclaimer

As we enter "Holy Week" I am contemplating sin, our part in the cross, and what this means for me. Therefore, my posts may be a bit more somber and personally challenging that usual. Its important for me to sit in this moment and I hope you will walk with me through it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Its hard to admit our flaws. Its hard to admit them to ourselves, to our friends, to God, to our families.

I don't like doing it!

Usually, when some sin or bad habit or unfortunate behavior is in my life I talk about it in general vague terms. Like, I struggle with identity, or pride, or greed, or lust, or busyness, or control, or something like that. I think its good to be honest with these larger issues, but its also kind of easier not to name specific things.

I'm not exactly sure why.

But, last week I met with my journey group and God pushed me to share some specific things I had been struggling with.... the really ugly stuff that I don't like to say out lout... It was awesome!

There is something to be said about verbalizing our shit.

Then today we came before the Cross in preparation for Easter. Jeff encouraged us to reflect on how much we need this saving Grace this week.

There is hope in our darkness!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Something that made me laugh

Last night Matt was still out when I went to bed, so I texted him "Good Night" and fell asleep around 10:45PM. I woke up around 1:30AM and Matt wasn't there. I got a wave of panic and reached for my cell phone, no calls... so I dialed his number.

Then I heard something moving in our living room. Was I going to be attacked?

Nope... it was Matt, he said, "Are you calling me?" To which I replied, "Oh, you are here!"

He had fallen asleep on the couch, but apparently that only happened after he came home around 11:30 and had a conversation with me.

I don't remember the conversation.

To me, very funny.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


We did it... or so I thought...

Matt and I have been talking about canceling our cable service ever since we got married, but its taken a long time because there is always some sports season coming up or some discount that Time Warner is wiling to offer us. Last time we called to cancel they did not offer us a discounted package, so Matt switched us...

We weren't sure how long it was going to take into effect, but I recognized it happening when I was standing in the kitchen on Sunday night and heard my husband moan... "NOOOOO!!". I walked into the living room to see him holding the remote and staring at a fuzzy TV screen.

The biggest let down, no ESPN or ESPN2.

We continued to click through the channels and realized that we have all the way up to TNT. I was surprised, I thought we would only get the major networks, but Matt explained that we just switched to "basic"... So, we are weaning ourselves from the tube...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Enjoying the Rain?

There is a part of me that gets a bit down and dreary with dreary weather, and I'm fighting it today. But, I can't help but be super thankful for the rain that we are getting. Its so necessary for us in Wake County to receive this much needed precipitation.

This morning I was talking with a friend of mine who follows the water levels closely. He explained to me that the water we received earlier this week was a big help, but we still have a long way to go.

Check out these links for up-to-date graphs of our H20 resources at Falls Lake and Jordan Lake.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

86 Corn Dogs Really???

Last night I was called in to work at NoFo. We are partnering with different organizations on the first Tuesday of each month. This month we partnered with a local school. 10% of the evening proceeds went to benefit this school.

I'm not sure which school it was, but several helpful parents bussed tables and greeted customers. It was great to see the community come together to raise money and eat good food.

I walked in to help run food to a cafe full of children and then ran around like crazy for 3 hours... I've never ran so many red baskets to tables. We actually ran out of corn dogs!!

Just thought I'd share my fun times...

Warning: This may be a bit deep, but its worth a read.

About 5 years ago I spent a couple months in Arizona. While I was there I was stripped of many of the activities that I typically fill my life with. This was one of the most difficult times in my life. I was forced to challenge my perspective on myself, God, what matters, etc.

One of the new things I attempted to learn how to do was play the guitar. I haven't kept up the skill, but I busted out the guitar and old song books on Sunday afternoon. I still have long way to go and am thankful for my friends who are sharing strum patterns and practical ways to improve with me.

I can play one song fairly well and I think its because my soul sang it for a while. I played it and sang it recently and thought I would share...

Been broken, put through a fire
Felt the heat melt all my strength away.
Felt so lonely, felt so abandoned.
"Where is God," I heard my little voice say

I need You, I need You,
Oh Lord please hold me next to You,
I need You, I need You,
Oh Lord, don't let me fall from You,

Lord I know this world isn't easy,
And I know that You never promised no pain,
Trails will come, and trials will test me,
But help me Lord, its hard to see them as gain...

I forgot that You're right beside me,
Let me know that You're with me through the length.
Though I'm weak, this is my prayer,

Through my weakness, Lord please be my strength

Have you ever felt this way? Do these word bring hope to your soul?

The do to mine. Its important for me to remember where I have come from and how much I still need Jesus... I need You, I need You....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's the point?

Life, the goal of it all... why we are hear, what we accomplish... what is the point?

trying to be good?
knowing God?
being successful?
being happy?
achieving our goals?
loving others?
having a family?
finding our career path?
finding ourselves?
understanding ourselves?
giving of ourselves?

Just wondering... what do you think...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Something real that happens in Raleigh

This may not be a shock to you, but it is disturbing regardless.

The News & Observer featured this article today. It includes the ease of finding prostitutes and even getting feedback via online websites. This is NOT OKAY!!!

As i have mentioned before, the group that I am part of, seeks to build awareness and free people from slavery, yes slavery that happens today. A lot of the slavery that occurs is sexual bondage. Some of these prostitutes are not participating willingly in these acts.

I just think its important for us to know a bit more about the potential harm that is going on behind the scenes in a market that is saturated with pornography and allows Johns to to chat "innocently" online about their recent conquests.

I'm entering an angered rant, so I will stop and just say I am thankful for the connectivity of our world in a many ways, but this is not one of them.

Another reason why I am loving the YMCA

I like to take Sports Conditioning on Monday and Wednesday mornings before the sun comes up. I started going at this time because it fit best into my schedule but now, even when I could go later, I still frequent this class. To be honest, its hit or miss for me on the quality of work out I feel I'm getting, but the reason I keep going is the people that I get to talk to.

I think I crave the influence of people with more life experience than I have. There are a lot of those people in this class. One woman in particular often shares insights with me. This morning she just asked me if I had a good weekend, which led to a conversation about meeting our neighbors.

*Last night we had a delicious meal with some of our neighbors. Thanks Chewy's!

I mentioned to her how much I am enjoying my new found relationships with several of my neighbors, but how it has taken a long time (we've lived here for over 2 years) for me to reach out and take the steps to build these friendships. She then told me a story of how she meets her neighbors.

After getting settled in a new house she hosts and open house to make the initial contact and then from there on out has an open house every Thursday night. The neighborhood knows that when the lights are on the door is open. Some of the neighbors come every week and other ones only come once every couple months. She went on to tell me how it brings the neighborhood together, together so much that they have rescued one another from abusive relationships and have cared for friends facing cancer and through sicknesses of loved ones.

Its encouraging because this wasn't just a one time occurrence in a "special" situation for her, it is a way of life that she has carried to multiple cities since the 80s.

My challenge with doing this is our house. I love having people over, but we don't have much room and its not the most "kid friendly" place. Maybe I don't need to worry about that stuff or maybe I need to look further into our new house option... see post to come about this in the next day or so...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Values Recap

The reason I asked the question about Values came from the devotional book that I am doing. This book is great and really makes me think. It raises more questions than gives me answers. I like that (sort of). Thanks CRM!

Last night's conversation also included a reflection on this. One of the things that struck me was that there are some values that over lap between what our culture values and what Jesus talks about.

Its in my extreme nature to want to provide polar opposites, which is true in a lot of areas, but its also valuable to see where there are overlaps and celebrate those things.

If anything this quest continues to push me towards looking at how I orient my life. I'm not proud of some of the things that I focus on way too much... beauty and being accepted are two that I find hard not to idolize... even if unintentionally... Yet, there are other things that I am celebrating... generosity, humility, grace, freedom... these take intentionality...

I want to offer another suggestion:
Its not that cultural values are all negative and Kingdom values are the only place to find good, but its recognizing where our direction comes from... so, if we don't buy into cultural values, or say we don't, then where do we find our foundations? is it from the kingdom? is it from some place else?

Please keep letting me know what your thoughts are on what cultural and kingdom values are, maybe even look for the overlaps and the opposites.

Crazy Talents

Last night we went out with the Smiths and the Lavins to have drinks and celebrate Shannon's Birthday.

Happy Birthday Shannon!

I enjoyed the conversation the entire time and several other posts will come out of it as well. (I had to make a list of interesting thoughts from last night so that I wouldn't forget to share them with the virtual world)

I'm not often moved to go find videos on youtube, but I just spent 15 minutes searching until I found one of the videos that Erin and Matt were talking about. I picked this one for a couple reasons... its short, to music, and Vova and Olga look so happy at the end of it.

Thanks for the fun insights Lavins! Ya'll rock!