Month: September 2017

Let People Love You

I went in skeptical of the new “Anne with an E” TV series. The book and original movie are both dear to my heart, mostly because I pretty much am Anne, minus the red hair and elderly adoptive parents. Besides constant daydreaming, pretentious vocabulary words, tree-climbing, and general humorous-accident-prone-ness, the day after I watched the movie, I decked a boy in the head with my plastic lunch box for making fun of me. While Anne has lots of worthy traits, this, according to my horrified mom, was not the right one to emulate.

The point is, I’ve actually been impressed with the series. If you’re okay with a shade of melodrama in the earlier episodes (which feels realistic if you live or work with an adolescent girl), there is a depth and humanness to the show that delight me. (Also, Gilbert is more adorable than ever, which yes, is actually possible.)

For those who haven’t watched it, this isn’t a real spoiler, but in one episode, Matthew and Marilla are having financial difficulties, and in true sharp-tongued spinster form, Marilla informs everyone who shows up to help that “Cuthberts do not accept charity.”

At one point, Aunt Josephine Barry hides money in a book she gives to Anne, with the elegantly-scripted note, “Love is not charity.”

My first thought: That is so sweet.

My second thought: That is so…linguistically inaccurate. (more…)

Why I Love the Church

This was supposed to be a super long post in response to a tricky question. A few weeks ago, I made a comment that even though I sometimes get frustrated with what I see as misaligned priorities among believers (particularly in this country), I still love the church.

One of my friends, who’s recently had some disillusioning experiences with people claiming to be Christians asked me to explain what I meant by that.

So I sat down at my laptop and started to write about the importance of corporate worship and the deep love that Jesus has for the church. I talked about the staggering number of times the New Testament talks about our faith in terms of community—the “one anothers” of the Bible (but really—check out the list). I even mentioned how living alongside other sinners is necessary and helpful, and why service—basically anytime we allow another Christian to inconvenience us—is important for our spiritual growth.

There were lots of bullet points and references and assorted true things…but something was missing. Sure, I appreciate all of those things, but it wasn’t a good answer to the actual question.

It’s kind of like if someone asked me why I love my twin sister. I could tell you all kinds of wonderful things about her—she’s strong and kind and dependable and deeply loyal in her love for God and others. I could name the things I enjoy doing with her—going on hikes or picking blueberries or playing board games. I could even describe what she’s done for me—intervening with superhuman common sense to keep me alive through childhood and adolescence, reminding me of the importance of budgeting and sending my parents birthday cards, challenging me to grow in my faith.

All of those things are true. None of them actually answer the question.

You see, I love my sister because she’s mine.

She’s family. There is nothing she could ever do to lose my love (or earn it, for that matter). I will always love her, no matter what, and it’s not because of all the—admittedly cool—things about her. I’d say the same for my parents and close friends and the jr. highers I mentor. It’s not about what they do for me, it’s about who they are.

Aren’t we a good-looking bunch?

Same with the church. It’s good to know some of the benefits of being part of a local church, or to understand why the global church matters, but that’s not why I love it.

I love the church because she’s mine. She’s family. I’ll never walk away from her, even when she’s frustrating. I’ll never give up on her, even if she breaks my heart. (more…)

When You’ve Almost Lost Hope

I’ve mentioned on the blog how I conned my way into our school’s Select Chorale my senior year of high school without being able to read music, but I don’t know that I’ve given you the insider secret of how I did it.

There were two key strategies to my deception: I had to work really hard to keep up in class…and I cheated at sight-singing.

Sight-signing basically involves getting a completely new piece of music to sing on “la” in four part harmony. Our director played the accompaniment and listened to make sure we were accurately reading our parts the first time through instead of just relying on our memory.

This should have been mildly terrifying to someone who didn’t read music. Except, guess what we used for sight-singing?

A hymnal.

Can all the old-school church kids give an “Amen, Hallelujah”? Sure, my church sang some modern choruses (we even got—gasp—a drum set when I was in middle school) but we still had pew hymnals and used ‘em, including some Sunday night services (which we also still had) consisting of two straight hours of people requesting their favorites from Phyllis Kantenwein, who I’m convinced had the most perfect-for-an-organist name in the history of Christianity.

High School Amy before a Chorale concert.

During class, our choir director avoided common standbys like “Amazing Grace” or pretty much any Christmas carol, but he assumed no self-respecting teenager would know the harmonies to forgotten gems like “He Hideth My Soul” or “In the Garden.”

Heh, heh. Oh, it was great. I was so proud of my cleverness, blithely belting out harmonies while my classmates who actually knew how to read music hesitated as their head knowledge worked to catch up with their voices. (more…)