Stories that Feed the Soul

Stories that Feed Your Soul
By Tony Campolo

I grew up in the church, went to a Christian college, and have sat through thousands of services, devotionals, and small groups. And while I appreciate the sermon, it’s almost always the story – or the sermon illustration – that I walk away remembering. Even in life, my favorite moments are almost always recalled with the statement “so this crazy thing happened to me today – let me tell you the story…”

When I received Tony Campolo’s new book in the mail, with a requested review date right around the corner, I thought the deadline would be impossible. I work. I have responsibilities. I like to take Tony’s writing and chew on it a bit. This review cannot be finished in…

I started flipping through the book. The longest chapter was 3 pages long.

I can do this.

Stories that Feed Your Soul is just that. A collection of stories centered around the themes in Romans 8. Tony is a known storyteller, and these recollections are about the day to day. The good, the bad, the sacred, the simple. Lessons about the daily struggle to examine ourselves and see just how best we can be servants and disciples. Lessons about thankfulness, grace, humility. Lessons simply about life.

Like most of Campolo’s work, Stories focuses heavily on social issues, our attitude toward our neighbors, the poor, the widow. But in these short stories, we get to see mirrors of our own lives. So many sounded familiar, like I might have heard the story in school about a great activist, politician or pop culture figure. Many just gave tidbits to chew on in my day.

So many stories stand out. Mae West talking about Christians. A piece on St Francis of Assisi. A question about if a Buddhist Monk will go to Heaven. Another on a man who said “Making ten million dollars before I was 40 didn’t turn out to be as wonderful as I thought it was going to be.” A story on a boy with one arm who won a judo championship.

I had originally told my father, a pastor, that I would give him the book for sermon ideas after finishing this review. However now, I’m going to need to just buy him his own copy. This book will be re-read many times as I believe it was intended, one story at a time. I’m imagining many of these stories will fuel many a devotional and blog of my own.

Thank you Tony for writing a collection of stories truly inspire and Feed the Soul.

Liquid Cloud

Hey Kids – I’m also blogging now for a network called Liquid Cloud — (and 2 more places coming up soon!) — would love for you blog-readers to check it out! Find Liquid Cloud here: http://liquidcloud.wordpress.com/

More to come on this site…soon!

Make-up Addict (or, get naked when you get naked)

I’m reading an article that is making me sad. It asks the question:

Are you addicted to makeup?

Here’s the deal. I love makeup. I have entirely too much makeup in my bathroom drawer, much of it I haven’t ever used. When I walk into an Ulta store, I lose all control. All sense of responsibility. I need to buy everything. In a wide array of colors. Last time I was there, I bought 7 lip glosses. SEVEN. Granted, thanks to a special promo, those 7 were cheaper than buying 2 separately, but I digress.

Some of the findings in the article aren’t that surprising: 1 in 3 women won’t go out – even if only to drop off a kid at school – without makeup on, 6 in 10 wouldn’t go to work without makeup, etc. and I get that. But the statements that got to me were the ones dealing with relationships:

Over 33% felt their partner would not have been attracted to them if they hadn’t been wearing makeup when they met

14% get out of bed early to put on makeup before their significant other wakes up

The average woman waits 2.5 months before going makeup-less in front of her partner.

1 in 10 said they would never let their partner see them without a full face of makeup on.

WHAT?

This completely breaks my heart. First off, if someone is listed as “partner” or “significant other” I’m going to assume that also can be listed as “being intimate with.”

Translation – I’ll get naked with him, but I don’t want him to see my face.

Granted, I will admit that my personality is often probably a bit too laid back. My attitude may be a bit too cavalier when it comes to being accepted for how I look, as life happens and sometimes I just don’t have the time, the means or the desire to make sure I have perfectly lined eyes before the sun rises in the morning.

But the idea that someone would be willing to share not only a bed, but their body with someone who wouldn’t accept them without perfectly rosy cheeks and cinnamon colored lips seems tragic.

And after talking to several of my guy friends, I would guess most of these mates really don’t care if we wear makeup or not.

This could be an extreme way to continue the conversation, but I am concerned that if you’re making yourself hide your face from your mate – what else might you be trying to hide? If you’re not willing to share your face, your real skin, your true self, does that mean you aren’t sharing your true soul as well?

On the flip side, if your significant other is suggesting that makeup is required at all times, that you can’t just be who you are and how God made you, then maybe you need to find a new mate.

I am all about ritual. I get up in the morning, press a pot of coffee, read some Oswald, check Amazon’s deal of the day. This is a morning routine that I love. But if it’s a snowy Saturday and I have nowhere to be, it’s not a stressor if one of the three things didn’t happen. (except the coffee but that’s an entirely different addiction.)

By no means am I suggesting that makeup is bad or that we shouldn’t have pride and care about our appearance. Makeup does transform me and make me feel more confident and beautiful. But what would happen in our lives, our jobs, our relationships if we really just took off the masks, took off the makeup and got real.

A friend and I had a conversation over coffee a few years ago, and joked about how perhaps all our first dates needed to be in jeans, a t-shirt and no makeup. How different would our conversations be? Would our topics change? Would we get to the deep questions of life faster?

We would then, of course, follow up with a no-hold-barred-little-black-dress-and-5-inch-heels dinner invitation.

But maybe I need to look at my relationship with make-up, and make sure that I’m using it to enhance, not hide, who I am inside.

You can read the article here:

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/beauty/are-you-addicted-to-makeup-2440356/#pollId-23F432FA202711E0A6BD80656B827333

best albums of 2010

I really don’t like making lists. Shopping lists. To do lists. Resolution lists. I’m way too into multi-tasking to feel tied town to lists. But 2010 just had too much music that I loved to not at least mention a few that I hope you’ve gotten the pleasure to hear as well. These aren’t in any order though. Plus, you all should know by now I’m not nearly decisive enough to claim a truly #1 album.

But anyway, here’s my list. Favorite CDs 2010. Enjoy.

Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More
Grace never sounded so good. Check out a few lyrics from Roll Away Your Stone:
Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time,
For I’m afraid of what I will discover inside

Cause you told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the restart

Here’s the big radio song – note, if you get offended by the F-word, sorry. Little Lion Man is just too good to not include.

Vampire Weekend: Contra.
Album most likely to have me dancing around my apartment singing into a hairbrush. I have no idea how anyone could dislike Contra. It’s what pop music should be. You’re probably sick of this song thanks to their Honda commercial, but I don’t care. It’s fun. Holiday.

Spoon: Transference
Deep. Raw. Not as polished as some of their earlier albums, but struck a perfect chord with me. Spoon just seems like they embrace what it means to be a rock band, and they probably don’t care if we like them or not. Here’s Nobody Gets Me But You

Cee Lo Green: the Lady Killer.
I love me some Hammond organ. Honestly, this is just a great CD. I loved Gnarles Barkley, but between this album, and Danger Mouses’s Broken Bells album, I think the parts are greater than the sum in this case.

Song clip – this isn’t censored, so if you’re easily offended by the F word, you might want to move along….love the line in this song “I guess he’s more xbox and I’m more Atari.” F*** You

The National: High Violet

Sexiest singer voice out there. The National always reminds me of questions unearthed in dark bars on any given night. Anyone’s Ghost

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
16 songs. Brilliant melodies, and songs about growing up. So good. The Suburbs

Janelle Monae: The ArchAndriod
Amazing. Creative. Brilliant. Weird. I’m not sure if it’s pop, electronica, r&b, alternative? All the adjectives work. Her debut record, and I can’t help but think she’s going to be around for a long long time. Cold War –

Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs: God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise
This album became a staple for this year. With a laid back quality, this album made me cry and smile, often all in the same song. Beg, Steal or Borrow

Broken Bells: Broken Bells
Their concert bored me to tears, but their album was one of my absolute favorites. Made by Danger Mouse and that guy from the Shins, I gotta say, I loved just having this as a delicious soundtrack to 2010. The High Road –

The Choir: Burning Like the Midnight Sun.
The Choir took 5 years to release this, their 12th album, and arguably, one of their best. Transparent songs of growing up, living every day life, and even a few stories from the road, here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 5 years to hear their next full project. Melancholy Ghost –

Distant Sun

I don’t pretend to know what you want….

40

So here’s a fact I am actually embracing.

I’m going to be 40 years old. Tomorrow.

Most of my friends who are in their 20s and below still can’t comprehend my age. I’m sure I was the same way. Apparently “boring” is supposed to be a title overwhelmingly achieved when people hit 30.

And several of them, upon asking if I’m doing something to celebrate, seem unsure if they are even allowed to say the word “Forty”. Perhaps to them, the number forty is just significant of malt liquor. Maybe it’s the age of people in authority, or the part of life where you really start spending a lot of money on skin care. Or maybe they are simply aware that Marilyn Monroe, Princess Di, JFK Jr, MLK and Jesus had all died before this milestone birthday.

But the way I see it, 40 is sacred.

Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. It rained on Noah for 40 days. Moses was on the mountain for 40 days, and the Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years. Turns out embalming during that time took 40 days as well, but I’m not going to count that in this blog. Lent is 40 days (minus Sundays).

And the Purpose Driven Life takes 40 days to complete. Not saying Rick Warren and the Bible are parallel, just saying.

Psalm 40 – I waited patiently upon the Lord….he heard my cry….he lifted me….he set my feet on solid ground…..he has given me a new song….

Isaiah 40 – To whom can compare to God….Look up to the heavens, who created the stars?….He never grows weak or weary…He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless..but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength, they will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

So it seems that 40 is really the beginning. Everything up until now has just been a suggestion. Practice. Trial.

What I truly loved about my 30s was a sudden understanding that I really didn’t care what people thought. I didn’t have to follow every fashion trend. I don’t need to understand just why the world works the way it does, and I’m also realizing more and more just how little I know about just about everything.

40 is just a number. I’ll still be wearing Doc Martens and Chuck Taylors on most days. I’ll still do the majority of my work in my pjs and will continue to drink too much coffee. But now, on surveys, when I check that 40-44 age group box, I can look back at the previous boxes and be so thankful for an interesting, full life—and even more look forward to the boxes yet to come.

Sweet and Sweet Dream

We’ve come along way together. You both came into my life within a few weeks of each other. I was in the middle of a year-long stint working on the road, living out of a suitcase. Daily life included glamorous duties like loading and unloading trucks, midnight crew calls, and carrying around large boxes. This is the year I learned to maneuver a fork-lift, read truck scales and truly appreciate the magic that is gaff tape.

This is also the time my Lucky ‘Sweet Dream’ and Big Star ‘Sweet’ jeans came into my life.

I didn’t realize they both had almost the same name until a few days ago.

New Years 2007, my great friend Kris and I were talking about buying jeans. She lives in Chicago and so we wandered over to the Lucky store and I think both had slight moral dilemmas on just how much money we were about to spend on denim. But I knew I was about to walk into a tour where I needed jeans that would last, and she was tired of jeans that just didn’t fit right, so we decided that for a holiday treat, we’d buy ourselves some jeans.

Then a couple of weeks later, on a day off in Nashville, I found these Big Star jeans and realized that maybe these were investment pieces, not just work-clothes.

‘Sweet’ and ‘Sweet Dream’ have survived a multitude of crew calls, causal business meetings, movie screenings and concerts. Bad dates, good dates, scooter rides and hikes. Baseball games, coffee shops and so many laughter filled happy hours with my favorite people.

In a highly technical mathematical formula, I’m guessing these jeans have survived around 85 trips to the laundry. Let’s keep in mind that much of my existence is living on the road, so the majority of these cleaning trips aren’t me with a bottle of woolite and the gentle cycle. This is drop-off-3-hour-fluff-and-fold service at a random laundromat somewhere where for 80 cents a pound your clothes cleaned, but not necessarily loved.

But I, I have loved them.

And honestly, every time I put these jeans on, I just felt a little bit stronger, a little more confident and arguably a little bit sexier. Lets not mince words – a great pair of jeans can do wonders.

On this past tour, the knees of both pairs of jeans blew out, and several areas are past thread-bare and becoming transparent.

But these jeans have been resilient and have stood with me, through thick and thin over the past 4 years, and quite honestly, they are both one of my longest relationships.

So to my Lucky ‘Sweet Dream’, and Big Star ‘Sweet’ jeans, I am putting you into retirement. No need to bother yourself with more suitcase life. You will now spend your days lounging on the couch and working around the house. Congratulations on your new life, but my bad dates just won’t be the same without you.