Friday, August 28, 2009

John & Sam

I've been spending time recently in the Gospel of John. I think this might be my favorite of the four Gospels for so many reasons: his use of the light/dark motif, his blending of Hebrew and Greek ideas, the fact that one of my clearest memories of God opening up His truth to me during individual study was whilst I was reading John 1.

But I'm not in the happy part of John right now; I'm in John 18 and 19, the account of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, and trial. I didn't read much because I got sidetracked after chapter 19 verses 12-16:

The Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, "If you release this man, you are no 'friend of Caesar.' Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar."
When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again....and said to the people "Look, here is your king!"
"Away with him" they yelled. "Away with him! Crucify him!"
"What? Crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the leading priests shouted back.
Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.

Okay, so I know these guys were royally pissed at Jesus for claiming to be God's Son, the epitome of blasphemy and heresy. But "We have no king but Caesar"? Caesar? Really guys? This distant pagan whose rule was typified by violence and war? The man whose empire squashed the Jewish people? You chose him over a man who preached the real and present Kingdom of God?

Then what came to mind was an event that happened 1000 years before hand, recorded in 1 Samuel 8. Samuel is aging, his sons aren't leading with integrity, so the leaders of Israel ask Samuel to give them a king so they can be like all the other nations. Sam is upset, goes to God, and God tells him to give them what they want; "It is me they are rejecting," God explains to Sam. "They don't want me to be their king any longer."

Is it presumptuous to think I can feel empathy towards God? But ouch!! Here is this group of people that He freed, protected, provisioned, empowered, guided, and loved for generations, and they are now saying, "It isn't enough to have a King we can't see, a King we have to take on faith. God, you aren't enough for us anymore."

I doubt they had any clue that their descendants would do more than reject God's leadership by actually screaming for His death, but it boggles my mind to think that the deep root of Jesus' crucifixion was the Israelites' insistence of having a person step into God's role. "We have no king but Caesar" started with "Give us a king so we can be like other nations."

How easy it is to sit here in 2009 and pass judgment on these people. But aren't I just as prone to this kind of insistence? Aren't I just as tempted to doubt His desire and ability to free me, protect me, provide for me, empower me, guide me, and love me? Isn't it just as difficult for me to move forward with a God/Friend/Love that I can't see as it was for them to do what they needed to do without a physical king?

Yeah -- I see it in my heart. It lurks there -- this desire to supplant the intangible God with a finite being that I can at least see and touch. My prayer this morning is that, for today, I would have the faith and courage to let God be what He wants to be in my heart and thus receive the blessing of being one of those who has not seen and still believes (John 20:29).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

143D... aka Marah vs The Wall-of-Nothing

In less than one week, I will start my second year at Davis High School. I am really looking forward to a great year; I'm uber stoked to no longer be the new girl, to have another shot at the American Literature curriculum, and to get Young Life going again. However, there is one pill in the jam: my classroom walls are depressing.... off-white, but dirty off-white, paint chunks missing, dirty smudges that won't wash off. Last year I made due by focusing my creative energies on the one bulletin board in the room. I ignored the 15-foot wall of nothing, that wall's extension onto the front wall, the empty brick wall in the back. My plan for this year was to paint the room, but I discovered that doing so would create a union mess for my administrators.

So I sat with the space for a while and came up with a plan. A huge Ikea picture of Paris on the back brick wall was Phase One. Phase Two consisted of buying three 12"x36" posters that I matted on deep red tagboard: Paris, London, and Venice. And as lovely as these were, I still had the problem of the 15-foot wall of nothing, which seemed worse when juxtaposed with the now lovely front and back walls.

And then, inspiration struck! I fashioned a bulletin board out of cardboard, craft supplies, and butcher paper in the middle of the wall-of-nothing for Davis information and plan to hang four different posters around the board. I bought the first two yesterday. The first I chose for the picture, but the saying is decent too: "The block of granite which was an obstacle on the path of the weak, becomes a stepping stone in the path of the strong." The Action poster says, "It only takes a single thought to move the world." Excellent sentiments. Very "Hey, let's make the most of the one and only life each of us has been given."

And while these two posters do line up with my "Yes, And", "Go Big", "Total Support" life philosophy, I couldn't quite make myself buy much more inspiration and motivation. Instead, for the students who pay attention (and, let's be honest, for the days when I need a laugh), I have purchased these:

Wishes: When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.
Priorities: Hundreds of years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that my ruins become a tourist attraction.

Bring on the new school year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Return of the CongaMama

My friend Jaymie recently asked for video footage of the CongaMama in action. So, even though I'm playing a djembe and not a conga, the sound check from worship team this morning will have to suffice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pack your bags, something small...

I was putting a new check register in my wallet today and found a post-it note from a couple years ago. On it I had drawn a map from Halee's apartment in London to Piccadilly Circus and written the times that Louvre tours were given in English. Funny how something as small as a post-it can bring back a flood of memories and renew a desire to get up and go!

I'd love to go back to London and go to Vesper's at St. Paul's Cathedral, take a couple days and go to Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon, follow through on Halee's idea of having tea at The Ritz or The Savoy. I'd love to go back to Paris and stay for longer than 24 hours. I'd go to the Louvre, to Sacré-Couer, and to the Eiffel Tower again (and again and again and again... oh wait... that's what I did last time... but I'd do it again, especially at night when it's all lit up and sparkly).

And yet, as great as Paris and London would be, there are so many places I haven't been, things I would love to see. A friend told me recently that we only get this version Earth one time through because God's going to make a new one, and there's no guarantee of there being any repeat wonders. And while I'm confident God's got some great things planned for us, I can't help but agree.

So... Italy, anyone? Egypt? China? Ireland?

Wanna pack your bags, Something small
Take what you need and we disappear
Without a trace we'll be gone, gone
The moon and the stars can follow the car
And then when we get to the ocean
We gonna take a boat to the end of the world
All the way to the end of the world
"You & Me" Dave Matthews Band

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Late night thanksgiving

It is 10:21pm and, no, I'm not eating leftover turkey and sweet potatoes (though now that I've written that, those do sound right tasty just now. Mmmmmm.....) I realize in the lives of many people, this is not late. But I was hoping sleep would come at 9, which it probably would have had I not eaten chocolate ice cream at 8. Silly Marah. So, before I try to re-enter the Gates of Sleepland, I want to send some reflections about today out into the void.

1) I spent some time in my classroom today, revised the syllabi for this year's classes, set up my computer and stereo system, figured out how not to hang the big Paris picture, and got to sweep into the office singing "Maria" to our receptionist. I am thankful for a job I love and for no longer being the new girl. Then....

2) I spent the late morning/early afternoon with Elisa Briesmeister. Warm bevs, great chats, and some unexpected finds for back-to-school clothes. She bought me the cutest dress for my birthday, and then we found a little pink sweater to go with it so that I won't break the dress code when I wear it to school. I am thankful for the joy of feeling feminine and my gal pals who get that. Then...

3) I went to the Y a little later than normal, did a quick shoulder workout, and went to Turbo Kickboxing. For part of the class, Dani (the instructor) previewed this fall's Zumba class. I freakin' LOVE IT!!! I'm thankful for a healthy body, coordination, and the joy of choreography. Then...

4) I attended the first part of the Yakima Area Young Life Committee meeting. I got to share about Franklin Hill's vision for partnering with Young Life, how last year went, my camp experience, and our hopes for this year. Craig (Area director) and Ken (established leader with whom I've served a bit this year) shared with the committee how impressed they have been with me and how thankful they are for my leadership at Davis. Wow. Unexpected and so good to hear. I'm thankful for such an incredible community of Christ-followers with whom to serve, lead, love, and live. Then...

5) I came home, did some laundry, and tried to go to sleep, but couldn't. My heart is a little tender these days, wondering and hopeful, timid and unsure. I have surges of confidence, believing that I really am in a good space because I'm following Christ and allowing my community to spur me on towards wisdom, but the heart still aches, you know? So, instead of diving into the peanut butter (which, let's face it, has been my modus operandi for a while), I prayed, cried, and called Susie. I'm thankful for the present-tense grace of Christ and friends who hit their knees when I call for help.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Psalm 30:11-12

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Epic and Intimate

I just got back from 2.5 days on the Oregon Coast with my dear friend Lisa Jean. Going into it, my focus was to give Lisa as much blessing as I could heap upon her. She and Cesar have been kicking ass (and subsequently having their asses kicked) for the last few months with Church @ the Park and the new building. Sunday started their vacation time, so I stole her from her hubby and kids and away we whisked to Cannon Beach.

This was my third trip to the Oregon Coast this summer and it was by far the best. The first was with middle school camp, so my focus was on serving them and leading them. The second was a solo venture to visit some newly made friends in Seaside, but they were all working at camp so we had a great time, but something was missing. Thankfully, this trip was different. There is so much I could share about my time with Lisa Jean. We laughed a ton (thanks to literal videos, the Target Lady, and the fact that we spent a good portion of time watching a whale that turned out to be a rock) and talked about this particular season of my life and of hers. We ate clam chowder three different times (The Driftwood Inn was the best), took a long walk to Haystack (aka Goonie Rock), and watched He's Just Not that Into You and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

But upon further reflection, the pieces of the trip that spoke most clearly to my heart were things that mirrored what John Eldredge (author of Wild at Heart and The Sacred Romance) recently described in the Ransomed Heart newsletter: The Epic and the Intimate. And as fabulous as it was to share this trip with my friend, these sweet moments were experienced while Lisa was off doing something else....

~the glory of a majestic sunset that riotously changed colors as the Pacific swallowed up the light... Epic.

~the stillness of the early morning when the sun's rays turned the dew on the spider webs all sparkly and diamond-like... Intimate.

~the surprising power asserted by Haystack Rock as the incoming tide pounded against it... Epic.

~the cool tingle of the rolling fog on my face.... Intimate.

That's the kind of beauty that both calls up my soul into the amazing grandeur of God and calms my heart to a place of contented stillness...

And now I'm home with the school year coming at me with more speed than I care to acknowledge. Soon my life will be much more structured, much more demanding. My prayer is that I can, in the midst of all the newness and sameness, the structure and the spontaneity, the job and the joy, have eyes to see and a heart to receive both the encouragement that comes from being a part of God's Epic story and the peace that comes from being loved so Intimately.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the movie Taken starring Liam Neeson and you intend to do so, you may want to watch it first before reading this. But if you've already seen it or have no intention of doing so, read on!

Last night, I hosted a pizza and movie night with some of my Young Life gals. Three of the four of them went to camp together, and this is the first time it has actually worked out for us to get together again. We baked pizza and cookies and laughed a ton, and then settled down to watch the movie. They had all seen it before, but it was my first time. It is suspenseful, but not scary.

The basic premise is Liam Neeson's character has given up his life as an international security spy type person to attempt to rebuild a relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim. She wants to go to Paris with a friend for a few weeks and, after setting some guidelines, he gives his permission. Right before she leaves, though, he discovers that she hasn't told the whole truth; she and her pal intend to spend their time, not at the Louvre, but following U2 on their European tour. As soon as they land in Paris, they are marked by a prostitution trafficking ring and, while the daughter is on the phone with her father, men arrive at the Paris flat and abduct them.

The rest of the story follows Neeson's efforts to reclaim his daughter. He stops at nothing to track down Kim, ends up discovering the ring is deeply woven into the Parisian government, and after overcoming a myriad of obstacles, he finds her and saves her. The scene that just stopped me was, fittingly, the climax of the story. With the last villain shot in the head, Kim leans into her father and says, "You came for me. You came for me," to which Neeson replies, "I told you I would."

Now I know that there is a time to speak and a time to be still, and quite honestly I didn't really think about which kind of moment was happening in the room. I just said, "Holy crap! That is such a picture of what Jesus does for us. We get in situations -- sometimes by our own choices and sometimes because of things we could not see coming -- situations that are death to us. And Jesus just BUSTS through EVERYTHING to get us back. He said he would come for us and he does! DANG!!!"

Who knows what the girls were thinking, but I know what a timely reminder this is for me. There are places in my life that I didn't expect to be, areas of brokenness that haven't been healed, areas of longing that haven't been fulfilled. Jesus never said I would never royally blow it, but He did say that he came to heal the brokenhearted and to set captives free. He has not promised to give me everything I want, buy He has promised to provide all my needs according to his riches and glory. So I am not doomed to stay in my pit of dysfunction and death. Nor do I need to fret, worry, freak out, stress, or grab grab grab at what I think is best for me. Instead, I can be honest about where I am, confess my sin if my own choices got me here, and ask for Him to come get me; I can look at His abundant provision for my present-tense life and trust Him for the future. Amazing. Really.

Father, may I have the courage to follow as You lead me home.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Joe + Marah + Helium

I love my brother. Love might not be a strong enough word. He is such a fantastic person -- really smart but in a completely non-Marah kind of way, playful enough to buy dollar store costumes and chase cousins for hours on end, compassionate towards my dad and Carrie in a way that it quite beyond me, hard working both at his job and on the Ranch, and so hilariously funny that I wheeze like a tea kettle when the two of us get going. He's not a clown as he lacks the performance bug that us Traub gals have, but when the mood strikes, hilarity ensues. Plus he lets me tackle him, hug him, and/or hold his hand during church if I need to do so. What a guy!

So when I said, "Hey, Joe! Take this balloon and we're gonna sing for the camera," there was a bit of a push back. But he relented. And now, for the two people who read this (Hi Nat! Hi Anne!), I proudly present Marah Jean Traub and Bankunle Joseph Alvin Traub with their impromptu performance of Roll On, Columbia.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Other Summer Pics

The summer started with a short but sweet visit with Jayme and Scott! We got to spend an afternoon/evening together meandering through the Columbia River Gorge and my heart resonated with hers as if we hadn't spent the last several years on opposite sides of the country. Love you, J!!!

The fun continued with two weeks of Young Life Camp! I took six gals from Davis to high school camp and five girls from Franklin Hill to middle school camp. What a RIOT!!!! I laughed so hard so many times! What a blessing to be in the lives of these girls!

And the kicks keep on coming throughout the summer with random get togethers with my small group! One pool party turned into a "who can run the farthest on the inflatable dragon" contest! Susie rocked the competition!

Another short but fantastic visit was with Miss Kriste!! She and I taught together in Sunnyside for five years, and she now lives in Hawaii. I hadn't seen her since she had her son, Alexander who is now 1. So much laughter!! What a blessing!

Most recently, I took a trip to Calgary, Alberta to visit Mike & Tricia Swalm and their three fantastic girls! We spent days just putzing around Calgary, evenings watching Seinfeld, and then took a day and went to Banff, which was so incredibly beautiful. It was a too-short visit, to be sure!