Sunday, December 28, 2008

On the Horizon for Emerging Desert

Speaking for Tara and myself, 2008 has brought an absolutely wonderful experience and community in all of you that make up Emerging Desert. What started out as a very plain & simple gathering of friends has truly blossomed into a diverse, active community that has also maintained the original focus and simplicity. We feel incredibly blessed to be a part of it, and we look forward to our coming times together.

Along those lines, I wanted to get a post up regarding our group's near-future plans for those that may not be aware...

As we are now on the other side of Advent, we have collectively decided to continue gathering every Sunday afternoon. We finished Michael Frost's provocative book, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture last week, and our new discussion book has been selected:

by Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw

We have agreed to begin discussing this book on February 1st. In the meantime, throughout the month of January, we will be getting together for unplanned, free-flow conversations about any spiritual, cultural, missional, lifestyle, etc. questions/topics that anybody feels like offering. Today our conversation centered largely on the question of "Why are we here... created... living on earth?" Of course, the conversation went all over the place, but I truly enjoyed being in a room where these massive questions are being wrestled with in community and every single voice present is heard. Thanks for everybody's thoughts that were contributed... I, personally, got a lot out of it.

So, in the coming weeks, if you have a topic and/or question that you'd like to open up to the cohort for discussion, don't be shy: tithing, prayer, worship, death, mission, etc.... it's all fair-game.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas morning


Moonless darkness stands between

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


"Those who think they have arrived, have lost their way. Those who think they have reached their goal, have missed it. Those who think they are saints, are demons. An important part of the spiritual life is to keep longing, waiting, hoping, expecting. In the long run, some voluntary penance becomes necessary to help us remember that we are not yet fulfilled. A good criticism, a frustrating day, an empty stomach, or tired eyes might help to reawaken our expectation and deepen our prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, come."
--Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary

one of the best ever

Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!

I am a little excited. I have a confession: I love giving presents. And no joke, I dreamed I bought a golden retriever puppy for Stacy. I can still smell his puppy breath. Ew. (Sorry Stacy, I didn't get you one in real life.)

I was checking the internets this morning, and read about an amazing Christmas Eve during WWI. The soldiers stopped shooting each other and exchanged food and song. I thought this was a truly beautiful story. You can read about it on TallSkinnyKiwi's blog.

". . . if we had been left to ourselves, there would never have been another shot fired. We were on the most friendly terms, and it was only the fact that we were being controlled by others that made it necessary to start shooting each other once again."
Major Murdoch Mackenzie Wood, Gordon Highlander

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


To the impossible: Yes!

Enter and penetrate

O Spirit. Come and bless

This hour: the star is late.

Only the absurdity of love

Can break the bonds of hate.
--Madeleine L'Engle

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh faith, where art thou?

Well, it's time to make my blog debut. All you guys have been pretty raw and I guess I can't help but follow suit. To be honest, the last few months have been hard for me spiritually. I haven't been as interested in reading as I usually am, or talking about things, or even thinking about things. I've distracted myself with 1000 pages of Sherlock Holmes short stories (don't make fun, Sherlock is cool, but I think Sarah is still mortified that I just shared that).

I've been satisfied to engage on a purely surface level much of the time, and for that I apologize. I haven't been "showing up", and am having trouble getting past feeling apathetic about so many things. I've been getting by on things I read or thought about months or even years ago.

Sarah and I have been talking about what Carrie shared a few weeks ago, when she said that when church culture was stripped away the state of her faith scared her. Carrie's words stuck with me, and I talked with Sarah, and I re-read that Detoxing from Church article (at Sarah's prodding), and together we made a few realizations about ourselves and our faith that strikes to the heart of what following Jesus has been about for me, and kind of calls me out and leaves me staring uncomfortably at the state of my own faith, asking myself, "Is that really mine?".

My connection to God has always been an intellectual one. The primary expressions of my faith have been reading books and discussing theology with others. I've always found it easier to read the book about prayer, and recite 7 reasons about why having a healthy prayer life is essential, than to actually pray. Feeding myself in that manner has worked for a long time. But being the whiz-bang intellectual guy just isn't working anymore. I'm exactly where Carrie is, only for slightly different reasons. I'm seeing what my faith looks like when stripped of the intellectual element, that it's really made of paper-mache, and that's frightening.

As I see it now, I've had a glorious history of sitting comfortably behind the facade that I've so painstakingly erected: little known Bible factoids, quotations "just right" for the moment, or thoughts that make me look deep and vulnerable and in touch with my inner self but mask how terrified I am of going there for real. It was a good run while it lasted, but it's not working anymore. The good news is that with this realization comes hope and chance for true transformation. It's good to be able to share this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Love God

Okay, so I must admit first off that I'm not cool with blogging. I like to read blogs, but I am more reserved when it comes to putting myself out there. But here I go...

I read Kathy's blog today about Love, Mercy, and Compassion:

The one sentence that keeps weighing on me is this: "what i am saying, though, is that without a true heart connection to God’s redemption, grace, and mercy in a practical & real sense, it is hard to pass it on to others."

And I'm starting to wonder if I really do love God. I thought I did back when it was about rules. I was really good at following rules. But when I really think about it, my faith story mostly has to do with me making choices to do certain things and not do other things, and that was how I loved God I thought. And now the rules are very fuzzy for me and I think are starting to disappear, and I'm not sure that I can honestly say that I love God. I'm more of a thinker than a feeler in most areas of life, including my faith, and I can't say that I feel much emotion about God at all. I've wondered about this in the past and thought I could fix this by getting to know God I would read my Bible more or pray more...just be more disciplined. But I don't really want to read the Bible right now or pray and I don't know what that means. Do I even know God?

I'm trying to process this, and I try to think of things I love: my husband, my kids, the ocean, good food, sunny days and clear skies, art and music. But things like grace and mercy and God are so abstract right now for me that I don't know how to apply the word "love" to them. The only sense or emotion that I'm getting related to God is that somehow I think He still wants me even though I'm really messed up. But I don't know where it can go from here. It always comes back to the same question, "How do I do this? How do I love God?" I want to...for reals. A little help here?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Giving


First, I want to thank everyone for all that they have done to help out the two families we've adopted. So far, some of the things that have been accomplished:

For Grandpa with 9 grandkids

  • Fix plumbing leak and unclog blockage in upstairs bathroom (YEAH plumber).
  • Ceiling drywall repair (after plumbing repair AND laundry room).
  • Repair and clean kitchen cabinets
  • Purchase and assembly of new bunk bed. Assembly of existing bunk bed (one bunk bed still in garage in need of twin mattresses).
  • Carpet cleaning.
  • New (used) fridge
  • Painting in master bedroom and bathroom.
  • Not to mention all of time spent with grandpa and kids
  • Grandpa doesn't appear to be celebrating Christmas due to religious beliefs.
  • There is still much to do to help grandpa get certified for foster care. We'll talk more about this on Sunday.

For Grandma

  • Thanksgiving dinner (gift card to purchases everything needed for dinner)

We are getting close to Christmas. For the Grandma and her grandson, what we have so far is:

  • Bike
  • $25 Golden Coral gift card (grandma's wish for Christmas Dinner).
  • $100 JCP gift card for clothing for boy.
  • $25 Walmart Card for Misc
  • $50 Cash for Misc

What we still need is:

  • White Diamonds perfume for grandma (approx price $30)
  • ONE of the following items...a PSP, M.J. Basketball Shoes or Guitar Hero for 12 y.o boy (approx price of ONE of these items is ~$150) WE can use the $50 Cash towards this but still need about$100.

Is there anyone who would be interested in contributing towards getting this Christmas completed for family number 2? An item can be purchased or money can be contributed and we'd be happy to do shopping for you. If you can help out please contact Jim or Joy ASAP.

We'd like to have all gifts wrapped and delivered no later than MONDAY DECEMBER 22nd.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

brew party

A reminder...this Saturday the Newsomes in Phoenix are hosting a homebrew party. This is an open invitation party. So you are invited! Kids are welcome. There will be a homebrew competition--everyone else is asked to bring something to share. Please click on the title of this post to visit the official website with the details. See you there!!!

dec 08 kathy's visit

Hey friends,
I really enjoyed Kathy's visit on Sunday--thanks for coming to Arizona, Kathy!

I thought maybe we could share our thoughts and reflections about Sundays conversation. What stood out to me was the openness in our time together. I love hearing what is going on inside everyone's head--I love that we aren't trying to impress each other with knowledge or answers.

It was great seeing the newlyweds--congrats!, but sorry to miss some regulars.

Please share your thoughts/reflections in the comments.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

welcome to the desert

Hey friends,
I want to draw your attention to another post by Julie Clawson. She blogs about the role of the Holy Spirit as one who draws us into the desert...tempts us, teaches us about doubt...I thought we could all find the irony in the name of our group.
The desert is a hard place - barren, empty. A place not of joy and assurance, but of desolation and doubt. It is where one goes to wrestle with God - really struggle with the hard questions that honestly have no answers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Detoxing from Church

First I just wanted to thank everyone for being such a warm and friendly group for Ron and I to walk into. We've only been there a few times and we already feel a part, and for that we are grateful!   This past Sunday was pretty amazing for us, and has really spurred a lot of talks throughout the week so far.  Several months ago I came across an article called Detoxing From Church by Jason Zahariades, and we've found it incredibly thought-provoking.  I'd like to share it will you all, since our ambivalence and uncertainly toward the institutional church apparatus seems to be shared among many!  (My apologies if everyone has already seen this!)

Imagine what you would have left after you remove from your life everything connected with the organizational church. I mean everything. I’ve discovered the hard way that living most of my adult life in cultural Christianity has formed my entire identity as a Christian. And when everything in my life connected with the church is gone, including sixteen years of professional ministry, I’m confronted with the true raw status my personal faith.  Now I'm going to say something harsh: In order to BE the Church, we need to leave the church.

Read the rest of the article here.

What does everyone think?