Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Shack


After a lull in interest in this book, I forced myself to continue reading, and have finally finished.  Now I am struggling to articulate what I really think about it. If you are interested in reading The Shack, I would recommend you avoid reading reviews of it first, which I did.  This is one reason I am struggling to really tell you what I think.  If you are a Christian and already have an understanding of the Trinity and how God works in our lives, you may or may not love The Shack.  Some explain the Trinity like an egg:  God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit represented by the shell, white, and yoke.  To me, this is not the best analogy because even though they are all parts of the egg; they are still three separate entities.  A better analogy is liquid, vapor, and ice; all are water and will always be water.  Just like God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all God.  I fall terribly short at explaining this, but Young does an amazing job, in my opinion, at explaining the Trinity and how much God truly loves each and every one of us as if we were the only person on the Earth to love. 

According to RisenMagazine.com The Shack "has been praised as a masterpiece and condemned as heresy but never ignored. The main objection comes from some Biblical literalists who object to Young’s playful portrayal of the Trinity. Still, most anyone looking should be able to uncover the heart of God in this fiction."  By the time I got back into the book, about Chapter 10, I began dog-earing like crazy and the heart of God was so revealed I could feel it.  Yes, I guess Young's portrayal of the Trinity is "playful"; it is definitely unlike anything I have heard before. This is why I say you may or may not love it...it's unique. 

The description on the back of the book..."Mackenzie Allen Philips's youngest daughter, Missy, has ben abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness.  Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgement he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into hos darkest nightmare.  What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question:  Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?  The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him."

My suggestion is to read The Shack and form your own opinion.  Personally, my view of the book changed entirely from beginning, to middle, to end; and I can say I'm glad I forced myself to keep reading.  Here is one excerpt that really hit home for me.

God speaking to Mack on page 142:  ". . .do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?". . ."Why do I do that?" asked Mack. 

"It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can't.  It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn't even real, nor will it ever be real.  You try to play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear."

. . ."So why do I have so much fear in my life?"

"Because you don't believe.  You don't know that we love you.  The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love.  I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future.  To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you.  You sing about it; you talk about it; but you don't know it."

When I take comfort in the overwhelming love of God, my worries are lifted off my shoulders.  Today in church we sang a song that is not new, it has been part of our worship service before, but for some reason it really hit me in a good way.  I couldn't even help being taken over with emotion and tears poured all the way down my neck.  I am seeing our beautiful, loving God from a new perspective after reading this book, and am feeling His presence like never before in my life.  My desire is for everyone to feel God's amazing love like I do.  After reading The Shack, I believe everyone will take away something different and unique to their own life.  Here is a video for "You're Beautiful" by Phil Wickham, the song from church this morning. (I'm starting to see a "beautiful" theme here!!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Praying for Pakistan

(WorldBulletin.net)

My heart breaks for Pakistan, and I wish there were more I could do.  I, once again, can't imagine what it would be like to experience total loss such as this.  What concerns me is the overall lack of International aid.  Is the world burninng out, fatiguing, and overwhelmed?  It is truly overwhelming indeed, but is our duty as humans to come to the aid of one another.  This is my prayer for myself, for you, and for the world; and that God continues to poor compassion into our hearts and compels action out of our lives...

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16
"According to the UN, 14 million people in Pakistan have been affected by the worst flooding in that country in memory. The flooding, which began in July with heavy monsoon rains, has left an estimated 2 million people homeless, and destroyed homes, farmland and infrastructure. Food, clean drinking water, shelter and medical supplies are needed in the initial phase of this disaster." (WorldVision.com)
*          *          *          *
"Britain's deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused some nations of failing to offer sufficient support.
"The response from some sections of the international community has been lamentable," Clegg said, without naming the countries he believed had failed to offer appropriate help.
The latest flooding over the weekend hit a poor region on the border between Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.
Sher Khan Bazai, the top government official in Nasirabad district, said 25,000 families had been made homeless by waters 8 feet high in some places. About 4,000 small villages had been either cut off or washed out.
"Water is everywhere," he said.
Once the floods recede, billions more dollars will be needed for reconstruction and getting people back to work in the already-poor nation of 170 million people. The International Monetary Fund has warned the floods could dent economic growth and fuel inflation.
While local charities and international agencies have helped hundreds of thousands of people with food, water, shelter and medical treatment, the scale of the disaster has meant many millions have received little or no assistance. The U.N. has voiced fears that disease in overcrowded and unsanitary relief camps may yet cause more deaths." (CBSnews.com)


World Concern is a wonderful organization and is working with partner agencies to assist flood victims with disaster relief. To make a donation to help with the flooding relief in Pakistan, please click HERE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scallops with Vegetables and Quinoa

As of 3:30 today it was 96 degrees here (which is hot and uncommon for the Seattle area).  Matt and I spent the morning at a friend's house helping with a covered patio they're building (He helped, I sipped iced tea and watched), and we also visited a couple rock quarries to get some ideas for our backyard project....which reminds me, I should post an update on that.  It has stayed relatively cool in our un-airconditioned house by keeping the windows shut, the bedroom doors closed and the fan going in our bedroom.  So after scoping out a campsite nearby for a future weekend trip and a Target run, we are now home, hot, and sitting on our bed trying to stay cool during the hottest time of the day.  Thought it'd be a great time to share a recipe I've been wanting to post!

Last month, Matt was talking to one of the trainers at our gym about nutritional counseling, and the trainer recommended a book called The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno.  I have not read much in the book other than the recipes, but I found a real winner in this one!!  I made this recipe a few weeks ago and I highly recommend it.  It's filling yet light, so much flavor, and I was especially excited to serve this on the sushi plates I bought in Chinatown in San Francisco back in 2006.  Don't like scallops? You could just cook the veggies and quinoa as a side dish.  Not sure what Quinoa ("KEEN-wah") is or if you'd like it?  Click HERE for a great description of what it tastes like, nutritional qualities and health benefits (especially for vegetarians).  It's a staple in our house, and I love that it's scrumptious in hot dishes like this and also cold salads.  I buy ours at Costco, it comes in a big resealable bag and is a great price.

What you need:
  • 1 lb scallops or 3-4 scallops per person ( I ate 3 and Matt ate 5)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed (it's bitter if you don't rinse it)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 6 small zucchini
  • 4 similarly sized carrots, trimmed and peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into long strips
  • 5 scallions, trimmed, cut lengthwise
  • Juice and zest of 1 fresh lime
  • 2 Tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari sauce (or just use soy sauce)
What you do:
Quinoa
  • Place rinsed quinoa and 2 cups vegetable stock in saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer, covered, until all liquid is absorbed.
Scallops
  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in skillet.  Add scallops and pan sear over medium heat, two minutes per side (click HERE for step-by-step directions for searing scallops).  Remove from heat.
Vegetables
  • With a vegetable peeler, peel strips of green zucchini skin.  Don't use white center part of zucchini; you can use that part for another meal.
  • Peel strips from the carrots until you have reached the core.  Don't use the core; again, it can be used for another meal (stew, snack, salad, etc)
  • Heat remaining olive oil in skillet.  Stir-fry red pepper, scallions, zucchini and carrots in batches.
  • Once all the veggies have been stir-fried, season with lime juice, sesame seeds, sesame oil, ground ginger and tamari (or soy sauce).  Serve over quinoa, top with scallops, and garnish with lime zest.
I did the prep work for the veggies and got those going, added them to a bowl covered with tin foil to keep them warm while stir-frying the batches.  I started the scallops as I was on my last (I think third) batch of veggies.

Yummy yummy in my tummy...I hope you get to try it too! 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

When I Say "I Am a Christian"

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost! That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble-needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I do not wish to judge
I have no authority–I only know I’m loved

- Carol Wimmer, 1988 -