Saturday, February 28, 2009

Anne Lindbergh, Part 1 of 3: on Simplicity

While hurling my body across the country on a recent trip I took my mind on a vacation of several hours by reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, Gifts from the Sea. Written more than 50 years ago, it’s a collection of meditations from a few weeks’ vacation taken alone. The 1950s world she was leaving behind was a different world, and yet, much the same too.

As she adjusts to the rhythm of life in her beach cabin, Lindbergh embraces its simplicity. The world she lived in was already characterized by choice, by freedom, by the opportunity to expand in any or all directions. This can make life quite stressful and complicated. She points out that women in large parts of the world have been forced back by war and poverty and the struggle to survive into lives with fewer choices; necessarily, simpler lives. The typical American is relatively free to choose a wider existence. While that’s a tremendous privilege, it often leads us away from a sustainable life of simplicity into a fragmented multiplicity.

At the beach, in her bare seashell of a house, things were different. Not only was she able to leave behind her husband and five children for a time, but also the round of chores, errands, and appointments, of what to wear and what to say and what to do. To sit, and rest, and listen, and think, and write.

What extraordinary freedom and peace a simpler life can bring. Surely we should all seek some days, at least that are simple, and not crowded with the many choices and privileges with which we fill our lives.

“I remember, again, ironically, that today more of us in America than anywhere else in the world have the luxury of choice between simplicity and complication of life. And for the most part, we, who could choose simplicity, choose complication.” Gifts from the Sea, p. 33

As she reflects on it, Lindbergh realizes that this has been a struggle for mankind all along, but maybe more so in our day, and maybe especially for women.

“For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes. How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives.” p. 28

What do you think? She was writing in a time when to be a woman was to be a wife, mother, and housekeeper. And you who are housewives may recognize and identify with this description more readily. But perhaps it describes many other lives as well. As a single person I find my life is a bit different yet in my work it does tend to ray out in different directions. People know they can come to me for help, or connections, or resources, and I’ll help them get what they need. Is it just my personality, or is it in some sense because I am a woman?

Would such words ring true for some men, as well?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Free Stuff

So, most of you know I edit a weekly ezine. The only part I actually write, though, is the monthly roundup promoting cool missions resources.

I've always thought that people who ask me to promote their stuff through that means might think about sending me a free copy. But this seldom happens. In the CP days people sent a lot of stuff to our office and it would usually make its way to my desk. Greg, our president, often received free books. He'd pass them along to me to peruse, promote, and/or add to our library. These days, without Greg or someone like him, that kind of thing has slowed to a trickle.

When I got home from my latest trip, though, I discovered I had hit the jackpot. The Southern Baptists' Women's Missionary Union had asked if they could send me some samples. I said sure.

25 books! (Look like some good 'uns, too.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I would kind of like to be one of those people who brings back cool stuff from the places I visit - food to share, gifts, souvenirs, or photos at least.

All I'm really good for is stories.

But I did get out my camera this time.

More images here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jet Set to El Paso

Ever flown on one of these little Canada Regional Jets? When I printed my boarding pass last night I knew that I was in for something different.

Gate B79... that means you go all the way to one end of the B concourse, and then some. Descend a mysterious staircase into the bowels of the airport, down a long hall, and finally, out onto the tarmac where you walk through actual air out to where the plane is parked. It looks like nothing so much as a city bus that just happens to have wings.

The front door of the plane folds down. Climb the five little steps, and in you go.

A CRJ200 holds 50 people.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Best Song

In honor of Slumdog Millionaire (which I saw last weekend, and hear is a shoe-in to win best picture at the Academy Awards tonight) I commend to you the song played under the closing credits, Jai Ho. It's also up for "best song."


Jai Ho Lyrics


Friday, February 20, 2009


People speaking or writing about the joys and/or importance of reading often start off talking about how full of books their houses are.

Yet it is not necessary to own something to enjoy it.

Our library district appears over-funded. I'm presently carrying around two books that they did not previously own but purchased on my request. I feel a little spoiled but am glad for their generosity. By the time my three weeks are up I'll return these riches to their shelves so others can enjoy them too.

My basic rule (though I bend it some) is to avoid buying anything I haven't read at least a good chunk of, at least once. That won't make sense to those of you who only read things once, but I seldom read good books less than two or three times.

When considering buying a book I see for sale in a bookstore (or advertised) I frequently think, "I'll wait until it comes out in paperback."

I'm rethinking that policy. Sure, it saves money. But a lot of what I like about owning books is wrapped up in their paper, design, and pleasantness to handle. And sometimes the hardbacks are just better. There's something that's really satisfying and superior about a nice hard-cover book, old or new. If I'm going to give a book a semi-permanent space in my life, I want it to be high quality.

I mention this because I recently found myself in possession of two books in hardback which I'd intended to acquire in paperback, and am glad at the mistake. One I bought used from Amazon; the other a family member picked off my wish list. Both Mike Mason's Champagne for the Soul (about which I've blogged previously, and may again) and Phillip Yancey's Prayer (ditto) are books I'm glad to now own in sturdy editions.

What things are best in paperback? Maybe those one wishes to carry on a trip, wherein weight becomes a factor.

Last week my suitcase weighed in at 50.5 pounds on the way to Indiana. Yikes. The airline didn't charge me for overweight luggage, but they could have. I came home 20 pounds lighter, having sold all the books I brought for that purpose. Now each of those customers who bought my books (or those to whom they gave them) has to ask, is this book worth space on my shelf?

What about you, what things do you love enough to be choosy about?

You’ve Got MORE Mail

I’ve noticed that the more promptly you answer your emails, the faster you get a response. For me, this can be very motivating. I thrive on feedback. But it can also create false priorities and inappropriate urgency. Keeping up with the new stuff tends to mean letting the older stuff get older.

As a result, I wonder what my correspondents think of me (if they think of me at all?) Were we to poll them, some would probably say, “That Marti Smith, she is so helpful and responsive!” and others would say, “It was just a simple question, and I’ve been waiting for months…” And of course both perspectives are equally valid: I’m tremendously responsive and tremendously unresponsive – consistently inconsistent!

And phone messages are harder, because I tend to lose any social skills or finesse I may have when I talk on the phone. Even as things tend to get resolved more quickly on the phone, and it's a better way to get to know people than over email, it's not a better way to get to know me; it's me at my worst. I'm always at least a little upset at being interrupted, put on the spot by receiving the call or having had to make it, and that tension shows. Something inside me freezes. I'm so much better on paper or in person.

Well, about a week and a half ago I tried to dig out, on the email side at least. By writing 45 emails on Friday, and 30 on Sunday, I got my inbox considerably cleaned out. So, now, with my messages flooding the inboxes of others, I suppose I am either (1) a blessing, or (2) part of their email problem!

Monday felt good, but I logged in the next morning to find 31 new emails.

Maintaining communication networks is both wonderful and stressful. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes it feels like an addiction. I need to lay down some ground rules for myself to make sure I’m being responsible and responsive, but also finding some peace and balance.

(With this, as with any struggle, I find only one thing that's really effective in dissolving my tendency to make things more complicated than they have to be. It's my friendship with Jesus. Some of my more secular readers might not understand, but if you've experienced this, I guess you know what I mean. It's as if he just takes my hand and says, with gentleness and love, "Get up. I'll go with you.")

See also Jon Swanson's post of a few weeks ago, Friday Morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cheeseburger Paradise

Yesterday in Indiana I drove past a restaurant that caught my eye. I'd never heard of it before. "Cheeseburger Paradise."

Well, actually, it's called "Cheeseburger in Paradise," as research revealed; apparently taking its name from a Jimmy Buffett song.

I like a good cheeseburger now and again. (Provided it is not "cheesed" by those Kraft slices that shame the name of my country).

Well, I did not stop and try out a Cheeseburger in Paradise. But when it comes down to it, I don't think my idea of paradise would be characterized by cheeseburgers.

What, I mused, is my idea of paradise?

My Viking ancestors had a distinct vision of the place. When I was teaching the night before and got to the bit about their history I explained that the word Viking may come from the word for creek, because they were pirates who hung out in the bays and creeks waiting to dart out and attack any vessel that came sailing by. Fjords seem well designed for such exploits; lots of good hiding places.

Vikings believed that most people, when they die, go to a misty, cold place called Niflheim where there wasn't much to do. But if you die in battle, you are rewarded by going to Valhalla where you can party and drink with the gods and warrior maidens called Valkyries.

This sounded so appealing that you had people trying to get their friends to kill them so they could go there. There was one group called the Berserks who fought without any armor (a technique which would tend to increase casualties, yes?)

But I'm not interested in drinking; in fact, I hate being around people who have been drinking. So, although I know some of you wouldn't want to come, my paradise would exclude alcohol. And promiscuity as well, which I find deeply disturbing.

I think I'd expect paradise to include a lot of flowers - the island motif is good - and great music - and fascinating, friendly people.... what else? What would be on your list? And, what would be excluded from your paradise?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Notorious / The Honest Resume

My friend B. is asking, what makes you notorious?

I was thinking about answering her question but realized I probably draw too much attention not just to my tricks, talents, and eccentricities, but also to my own deep frustrations with myself. I seek sympathy from others for my own failings - oh poor me, I have to live with me! I think sometimes this causes problems and gets in the way of others respecting, trusting, or feeling safe with me. Better just to lift my eyes off myself, not be so concerned with how I'm doing as if my flaws and failures were some huge tragedy.

I think it's a defense mechanism, a way to beat any potential critics to the punch. I must think, subconsciously, that if I'm really hard on myself, others will give me grace, whereas if I treat myself mercifully others will respond more critically. So: maybe I'm notoriously self-critical.

If this didn't "work" a fair bit of the time I probably wouldn't do it. But all the same I think a more balanced approach would be healthier. I think it would be a good idea to stop taking myself so seriously. I've grown in that, over the years; I don't do it all the time! But I flip back and forth.

On a (somewhat) lighter note, though, I was thinking - what would happen if, in those situations where we tend to emphasize only our virtues and accomplishments, we were open about our weaknesses and failures as well?

What if, for instance, you put on your resume the things you really do on the job? How much time you spend playing computer solitaire or checking things on the Internet? Your skill in undermining ideas you don't agree with?

What are other things that wouldn't make it onto a resume or job interview, but that would be of interest and concern to someone hiring?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Answering Questions

I just read an article with some suggestions from Christian singles about how to answer the question "Why aren't you married?"

Several said that short, simple answers were best, and less likely to offend. But every answer seemed to assume that the desired result was to end the line of questioning – to redirect or end the conversation.

I suppose that's reasonable. But when people reach out to us, no matter how awkwardly, it seems a pity that our response should be to shut them down. I know I don't like to be treated like that.

By the way, I leave Saturday morning for my first of three trips in three weeks. To start off this season I thought I'd treat myself with a night in a hotel (the rest of the time I’ll be around people a lot, and staying with various families). And, since I'll be footloose and fancy free, not to mention in possession of a rental car, and it being Valentine's Day... maybe dinner and a movie? No, not a chick flick; I was thinking of Slumdog Millionaire.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Asking, with C.S. Lewis: Is this Christian thing supposed to be hard, or easy?

A small group I’m part of recently met and talked about part of the C.S. Lewis classic Mere Christianity, in which he explores the question, “Is Christianity hard or easy?”

Our typical starting point in considering the Christian life, says Lewis, is quite naturally with our own interests and desires – some of which we recognize are probably good and should be encouraged, and some of which are not so good and ought to be abandoned.

“But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes.”

Unfortunately, this approach is bound to end in frustration. "The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered at every turn, will get angrier and angrier. In the end you will either give up trying to be good, or else become ... a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish."

The good news and the bad news is that the Christian life doesn’t work that way. Jesus doesn’t want part of our time, part of our money, part of our service. He asks for the whole enchilada.

“No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked. The whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead.”

So it’s no wonder the scriptures sometimes describe the Jesus way as harder and sometimes as easier, than other approaches to life; it is both.

But the compromise we are longing for – having it both ways – is harder.

“In fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Use Your Imagination...

Once I was making pancakes for some children I was babysitting. Halfway through they expressed their deep disappointment that I was not making "shapes."

"Sure I am!" I objected. "Look, it's the solar system! This one's the earth, this one's Venus, here's the moon," I said, pointing to my identical round pancakes. This, apparently, was not good enough. I thought it was hilarious.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Call of the Tropics...

Need to call my dear ol' dad and find out how his trip to Costa Rica went. Meanwhile, I see he's uploaded photos... He did drop me a line while he was gone to say he could definitely live in Costa Rica. (Would my stepmom would say the same?)

As for me, I could live in Bali. Live in Bali and be a writer. There's something creative in the air, there. (We could visit each other alternate years...)

In real life, it's unlikely I would move to Bali. I don't make decisions about where to live just based on the place. But where would you want to live, just based on "place-iness"? Someplace warmer? cooler? Four seasons, or just one?

Photo [stolen from] Dean Smith. More here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Grammar for Grownups: Common Slang and How to Spell It

Language is a beautiful, organic, changing thing. Creative spelling is one tool in our communicator's toolbox - or, toy in our toybox? I can see the point behind thru, u, r, and some of the other modern variations (though I don't necessarily like them or use them myself). Some things actually do have right and wrong spellings that make a difference. I suggest:

yeah (short vowel sound)
yay (long vowel sound)
whoa (long vowel sound)

Some things we say one way and write another (ESL students, trying to pick up idiomatic American English, will write things like 'I dunno' and 'are you gonna come?' It's fine to talk that way, but on paper, use 'don't know' and 'going to.')

Are there other words like that which you cringe to see misspelled?

Filed under "Writing."

Friday, February 06, 2009

Aha Moments

Remember my hot-water heater dilemma, and its tidy solution?

Recently a few more small, practical revelations have bought it to mind. Things that make life just a little bit better, and over which I exclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that before?!”

Dear readers, have you made any small discoveries which solved practical problems – say, in the past year? Share the wealth. Leave a comment.

(This is filed under Daily Life.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

"It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance...

"The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

"The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

"But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them."

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This is filed under Quotations.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

January Reading

Note: I "backdated" a new post to satisfy my own desire for closure. If you want to see my reading list for all of 2008 - exactly 100 books, strangely - you can find it here.

Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell

I loved Gladwell’s The Tipping Point because it deals with how changes move through groups of people; that is an area I’m quite interested in and have opportunities to teach to others. I didn’t know if I’d enjoy his other books as much, but they are marvelous. Great and fascinating analysis of the principles and circumstances that allow some to achieve greatness while others do not. Ever since reading it I’ve found myself weaving his examples into conversation. I'll resist the urge to do so here - at least today! Sadly, it's due back at the library.

A Live Coal in the Sea, by Madeleine L'Engle

Not as engaging as some of her stuff, though it covers similar territory. This one emphasizes the redemptive power of grace and forgiveness, compared to which the worst of offenses are like “a live coal in the sea.”

Also read: Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment, by Joan Aiken. Fan fiction is seldom written by such accomplished writers. Joan Aiken handles Austen well.

Small Steps, by Louis Sachar

I was hoping this would be as good as his brilliant book for kids, Holes (to which it is something of a sequel) but it fell short. Still a good young-adult novel; clever, appealing, and funny, just not outstanding. Have any of you – or your kids - read his other books?

Also read: The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization, by Daniel Pinkwater, likewise probably not his best, but had some great lines in it and the added bonus, this time, of a lot of culture/history. A child might have trouble separating what’s story from what’s true, but that line can be fuzzy in real life, as well!

Selected Stories, by Rudyard Kipling

The guy who wrote the introduction to this fine collection said “Rudyard Kipling is beyond question the greatest short-story writer in the English language, and this collection illustrates the richness and variety of his achievement.” Whomever wrote the copy for the back cover felt this language was too strong and amended it to, “Rudyard Kipling is undoubtedly one of the greatest short-story writers in the English language.” Ha!

Either way, he’s powerful good! I’d tried to read some of Kipling's more famous works before and hadn’t been sucked in. Certainly he uses a lot of Hindi and British dialect that can be hard to follow (Many of his stories are set in India). Still, he’s very funny, and provides a believable insider’s perspective on his characters, which come from all walks of life. He also knows how to twist a story at the end much like O. Henry or Roald Dahl. Good stuff. I may pick up another volume to put in my collection for traveling (e.g. a Dover edition or maybe there's stuff out there I can download and read on screen).

Also read: A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw, by Isaac Bashevis Singer, which is a great window on the Hasidic Jewish life in Eastern Europe.

Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman's Story, by Mark Richie

Whew, this one was tough. I can’t say I wasn’t warned, but the sexual assault and other nastiness was hard to swallow, page after page. Tribal jungle types are not universally endearing. So I didn't read this one straight through. One thing this volume illustrates is how really awful the community of anthropologists can be, as well. Some of those in this book were really there to build their own prestige and bank accounts at the expense of the locals. This reinforced my suspicion that going back to school in the social sciences, at a public school, would often mean swimming upstream against the currents that would fight my desire to use my skills to actually make people’s lives better. That’s right, I don’t believe in the Prime Directive!

Also read: Champagne for the Soul: Celebrating God's Gift of Joy, by Mike Mason, which I blogged about earlier. What a powerful book!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Blog Topic Stew


For the last week or so visits to this blog have been up 40% due to traffic generated by “Google images.” So far I have not been able to determine what has caused this change, or what image(s) the browsers are finding. When people come to my site through a search engine, Google Analytics usually tells me what they’d typed in. But these visits do not show up on that part of the report. Hmmm.


You’ve noticed, I’m sure, how much easier it is to find information in recent years. The world of “did you know the real story behind…” is now open to all. And what’s more, everybody seems to know this. You wonder something, you find it in a matter of seconds.

Combine this with social networking and I wonder how much our formerly somewhat mysterious lives and minds are becoming an open book. For example, you may have noticed the ‘25 random things about me’ thing that is going around Facebook and perhaps elsewhere too. You’re supposed to share 25 random bits of information about yourself, then “tag” 25 people to do the same. Wondering how viral this thing could become I am toying with the idea of not answering until I get tagged 25 times.

After all, 25 random things is a lot. What would I have left for “two truths and a lie,” “I’ve never,” and other such party games? In spite of my openness on this blog, I’m reluctant to participate. Ah well, there’s always the limitations of the human mind: who will remember which startling fact belongs to which of their “friends”?


I sat down this weekend to pull together all my financial records, to see how I did in 2008 and get ready for taxes. I’m not doing my own taxes this year, now that I have a housemate who is a tax preparer (go Deb!) But it means I have to get organized before I go in for my appointment. Plus, it’s a good time to set financial goals for 2009.

I met my 2008 goals for saving and investment (though with the markets being as they are my net worth is pathetic). Housing expenses were right on budget. But charitable giving? Ah, I’m not as generous as I thought I was. The “everything else” quadrant – basically the money I spend on myself – was nearly double what it should have been – so, too much of the money I meant to give to others got spent on me. Hmm. Time to get more serious about the budget, I think.


Am enjoying life without a cell phone, though I know my friends will not allow me to continue long in this state. They probably think of me traveling without one as being as dangerous as driving without a seat belt. The cell phone company was remarkably cooperative on suspending my service, as long as I wasn’t actually requesting money back. And they will also keep that money and the number available for 60 days if I want to get a new phone. Furthermore, they are happy to sell me a new one for as low as $10, actually free with the purchase of a certain number of minutes.

I think I’ll give myself another week to enjoy this respite from one aspect of the rat race before taking them up on that offer.


I took a step last week in conquering my fear of soup. “What!” you say, “She’s afraid of soup? This girl is even stranger that we thought!” It’s not exactly soup I fear, just the making of it. Too many images of Mom cooking down a turkey carcass I guess. In my mind, I knew there had to be easier ways to make soup, but was timid about trying them out. So I pulled out a cookbook my stepmother gave me, called something like “Cheap Fast Good,” and many, many of the dishes are soups. So I thought I couldn’t go wrong with recipes from a cookbook with a title like that. I picked out a nice beef-and-vegetable soup recipe to try first.

The only thing is, we didn’t have a good five-quart soup pot. We do have one big enough but the bottom is too thin and that affects its performance. So, my first “cheap” soup recipe was $30 more expensive than it might have been, since it included the purchase of a proper soup vessel.

The results, though, were delicious. This week, I’ll try something with chicken.

(This picture isn’t my soup, in case you are wondering. I borrowed it from a cooking website, 'the gutsy gourmet.' Which is perhaps the sort of activity that’s messing up my blog traffic statistics.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Word of God, Speak

One of the speakers at last weekend's conference was a man some of you would have enjoyed - if only because he made everyone laugh! His name is Carl Ellis, and he's pretty much an urban ministry guy, as well as reaching out to Muslims. So, can I share some of it with you? This gives me a chance to write up my notes, too.

Pre-conversion Discipleship

He said: We tend to fall into the trap of wanting to win people to Jesus, to make converts, and look to God to disciple them, but it's really the other way around. We make disciples; Jesus converts people. We shouldn't get that backwards, be trying to do the God bit and blowing off the disciple-making. That's how you impact a culture, by making disciples. He said he read through the scriptures looking for where the 12 'became Christians' and couldn't figure it out. But they were disciples from day one, from 'come and see.'

Where we get in trouble and our evangelism/mission efforts get off is when we have a big emphasis on going in and harvesting when we're going places where nobody has ever planted. But Jesus started discipling people as soon as he met them.

Engaging People on Their Concerns

Similarly, when we meet people, we can start investing in them. Most people only reveal superficial things on first contact but if you don't brush those off and stick around, they will reveal more of their core concerns. Our job is to engage people on their concerns. Sharing the gospel isn't to tell them Christ is the answer until we know what the question is. Sometimes in our evangelism efforts we are too much like a clinic that gives out the same prescription to everyone, when we need to be like a pharmacist that dispenses what that person needs.

Discipleship is the application of the word of God to their life concerns, which they reveal at their own pace. The Bible is full of stories, and the stories are not just the banana peel for the good stuff inside, the are also edible! There's no situation someone is in, that someone in the Bible hasn't gone through as well. There's a story for everything.

Theology as Engaging with God

So, doing theology for yourself, it might be like this: You look at a situation in your life, and ask, what story in the Bible fits the same patterns? In that situation, how was God in control? How was he speaking? How was in present? And what does that have to say about how he is in control of, speaking in, and present in my situation?

"Doing theology" is really asking God specific questions about our situations and applying the word of God to our lives, and as we love people and know the Bible we can introduce other people to God, too.

So... I think we're back to listening, again. Listening to one another. Listening to our lives. Listening to God.