Monday, May 3, 2010


Pilate presents the people with a choice... "And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will."

Man is perpetually prone to making terrible choices. On this day, when given the choice between a Man who gives life and a man who takes it, the people chose the murderer. In all my spirituality I would like to say with absolute certainty that I would not have made the same choice, but I think my flesh would tell a different story. 

There are moments everyday of my life where I stand with the raging crowd and plead for the life of the murderer. I petition for the rebel. And in so doing, I send Christ to the cross. It's illogical, and when the murderer wreaks havoc on my life, I come to my senses and chase after Christ all the way to Calvary. There He invites me to die with Him, and again I am faced with a choice.

How do I want to die? 

Do I want a destructive death marked by chaos and brokenness and rebellion? Or do I want a death that leads to peace and contentment and life renewed? It's an easy answer and it should be an easy choice. I'm going to die either way.

"Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me."

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Letting Story Guide Us

This story was crafted through the joint efforts of my roommate, Kelsey and I (although she was the primary mastermind and overall creative genius/composer of this brilliant work). Enjoy!

Once upon a time, two lovely, beautiful, intelligent, fabulous, hilarious and exceptionally vibrant young women decided to set out to make a story for themselves (thanks, Donald Miller).

The story begins in the bathroom, where all good stories begin. Kelsey, the younger and lower-maintenance of the two, took a mere four minutes to complete her morning dressing, hairstyling and basic cleanliness routine. Jaime, on the other hand, likes to feel extra pretty in her stories. And sometimes feeling pretty requires roughly one hour of general appearance overhaul. Now, feeling presentable and ready for adventure, our ladies left their apartment and entered the bustling world beyond their door.

After taking the elevator down to the newly white-washed, although still smelling slightly of “mystery and intrigue” lobby, the ladies marched out into the bright light of the great outdoors. They were greeted by a multitude of people coming and going, several honking car horns and a giant, inflated Hisense arch that only seems to make appearances on weekends and national holidays.

Since this was May Day (and the beginning of flip-flop season in Qingdao), our two heroines determined that some good old-fashioned rhyming was in order. They spent several minutes rhyming with the words May and Day and then moved onto more complex terminology like option and orange.

They rhymed their way to the bus stop, where they soon discovered that all of Qingdao, and various other Chinese cities, had been given the day off. These smart, environmentally conscientious citizens of the great People’s Republic had opted for the highly efficient Qingdao Public Transit System (QPTS). Before long, a bus without the population of Billings, MT bursting through the windows pulled up to the station. The strikingly attractive, courageous women shoved their way onto this number 228 bus and began their journey west (“go west young (wo)man!”). They decided that they were probably too outnumbered to try and teach their fellow bus riders the American way of the “Personal Space Bubble”.

A mere two stops later, the bus came to a grinding halt and only continued forward in periodic, jerking spurts for the next 20 minutes or more. The air in the bus quickly became stagnant and one young passenger had to make an emergency exit to chuck her morning’s meal on the nearest shrub. She did not re-alight the bus. After an unquantifiable period of time spent standing and bonding with some of their newest, closest friends, Jaime and Kelsey decided it was time for some fresh air and exercise, so they fought their way off the bus and were on their way.

Having exited the bus, the adventurous damsels looked up and down the street at the eternal line of busses and tried, in vain, to count up the number employed by the city of Qingdao. They also waved at their newest fan-base onboard the 228, realizing that their leisurely pace of footfall was more rapid than the movement of the motorized busses. This made them feel like speed demons. Or angels with wings on their feet.

In no time they arrived at Tai Ping Jiao Lu where they decided to cross the congested Xiang Gang Lu and venture into the Great Unknown. The Great Unknown just happened to be a lovely park! They pranced and frolicked their way down the cobblestone pathways and paused only for the most meaningful of photo opportunities.

After enjoying a pleasant man-made water feature, they stumbled upon some rather enticing specialized old people exercise equipment. Being the fitness fanatics that they are, they quickly realized this was the prime opportunity to shoot their newest (and to date most extreme) exercise video for old people and those that will one day be old.

Jaime and Kelsey are so fabulous and white that they cannot go anywhere without being mobbed by adoring passersby. That being the case, while in the midst of their intense video shoot, the ladies were approached by a darling girl with a camera and eager parents dying to take her picture with our heroines.

Spent and ready for more beauty, Kelsey and Jaime made their way towards the oh-so scenic seaside. While seated on a rocky outcropping, they observed old cooking fires, new cooking fires, people eating food prepared on cooking fires, people catching sea life to cook on cooking fires, and of course, many a bridal couple searching for that perfect shot to represent their eternal love for one another.

The duo continued their walk along the seashore where the sweet sounds of Canadian songbird Celine Dion echoed with the crashing ocean waves. Jaime of course had to join in. Kelsey was too busy avoiding the merchants selling their seashell monkeys and squid kabobs. Nothing wets your appetite like the odor of fresh squid flesh being seared on an open flame.

Soon the Number One Bathing Beach appeared on the horizon. Well, it would have appeared had it not been eclipsed by the innumerable hoards of Chinese pleasure seekers seeking pleasure in the sun, sand and surf of Qingdao’s number one bathing beach. 

Intrigued by the size of the world’s most populous country, our little adventure seekers wandered about taking in face after face after face after face. After ample wandering, a twinge of hunger struck their delicate mid-sections. They discussed their options for nourishment and began seeking transportation by which to acquire said nourishment. It was then they realized just how much 1.6 billion is. Finding suitable transportation became a challenge which folk with less faith would label “impossible”. But not these two. No, these two knew that with white skin and minimal language skills, anything is possible in China. Thus began the hunt that would end one ill-fated, directionally challenged bus ride, several long, arduous treks and many failed taxi waves later.

Mr. Ma was a very unsuspecting Knight in Shining Armor. In fact, there was no shining armor in sight, save his meticulously maintained taxi – which despite his efforts in maintenance, seemed to have a flat tire. The brave, although now tiring and devastatingly famished, damsels were in for a longer ride than they had originally anticipated. They should have known when the taxi started traveling the wrong direction that something was amuck. But they trusted Mr. Ma. He had saved them from the treacherous curving overpass where they had desperately sought a way out of the west side. To his credit, Mr. Ma tried to explain in detail what was happening. Unfortunately, his English vocabulary could best be described as “limited”, and our heroines lacked the lingual abilities to translate his explanation. After a few minutes of driving in an area of town neither had seen before, the car stopped at a fix-it shop. It was gently lifted and the tire replaced, all while the ladies lounged comfortably in the back seat.

Tire fixed, our trio was back on the road. In good time, they arrived at their destination: iGo, home of delicious, Turkish delicacies. After a trip to the ladies room, two Turkish burrito things were rapidly inhaled, and the day was punctuated which a mutual sigh of relief and satisfaction.

Our ladies, now nourished and decidedly less agitated, returned to their humble abode (via one last uneventful bus ride where *gasp!* they even got seats) where they proceeded to do a few of their favorite activities: make cookies, eat them, watch The Office and check Facebook.

Overall, it was a splendid day with a story so splendid it was almost beyond description. Almost.