Monday, June 25, 2007

...These are a few of my favorite hymns...

Julie Andrews was once in a musical called "The Sound of Music." You may have heard of it. It is a story of love, and singing, and mountains, and nannying, and nuns, and Nazis--really, it contains every topic imaginable. Except monkeys on rollerskates, which definitely would have added another dimension to the story. Especially if these monkeys smoked and drank, and came from the wrong side of the tracks, but had a redemptive encounter with the famous singing Von Trapp family, who then recruited the monkeys to help keep the Nazis out of beautiful Austria. Supposedly, one chimpanzee has the strength of ten men, and on roller skates they could easily double their speed.

I digress.

Anyway, I basically wrote the song, "My Favorite Things." Oscar Hammerstein didn't know it at the time, but he was pre-plagiarizing all the lyrics from my pre-prenatal self. Think about it. "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens." And, "Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes; Silver white winters that melt into springs; These are a few of my favorite things." I have seen a rose. I had a cat at home, and I even kind of miss her. Don't even get me started on mittens. And girls? Who doesn't like girls. I know I do.

But for whatever reason, the line, "These are a few of my favorite things", just reminded me of some of the greatest verses from my favorite hymns. I have a soft spot in my heart for hymns. While others may cringe at the somewhat archaic language, I embrace it. Hymns speak of the deepest truths of the Christian faith in the most beautiful and poetic ways, while many modern songs communicate through vulgar expressions that make it sound like God is your girlfriend and you're just saying a bunch of cliché 'I love yous' in the hopes of making out. Yes, I'm overexaggerating. Most modern worship songs aren't really that bad...maybe...probably...okay, you got me--I sing them when I'm in the shower or when nobody is around. But I really, really, really love hymns. Maybe not as much as girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, but I love them nonetheless. So here are a few of my favorite verses from my favorite hymns.

"Not what my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers,
And sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load.

Thy grace alone, O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine,
No other blood will do,
No strength save that,
Which is divine,
Can bear me safely through."

"Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God."

"1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
'Tis in this way' The Lord replied
'I answer prayer for grace and faith'

7. 'These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.'”

"He saw me plunged in deep distress
He fled to my relief
For me He bore the shameful cross
And carried all my grief
His hand a thousand blessings pours
Upon my guilty head
His presence gilds my darkest hours
And guards my sleeping bed

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine
Had I a thousand hearts to give
Lord, they should all be Thine
A thousand men could not compose
A worthy song to bring
Yet Your love is a melody
Our hearts can’t help but sing!"

Amen. I don't even know if Jonathan Edwards could have said it better himself. And it should be obvious what I'm thankful for today--not only are these songs beautiful, but they are true!

Oh yeah, and, "Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels; Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles; Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings; These are a few of my favorite things."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I Comprendo'd

Today I had a breakthrough at church, though it may have been scaled down to just a semi-breakthrough after talking with a few other people. I understood the message. I could follow every point he made, and felt motivated by it! Of course, it was all in English, but at this point, what does that matter? Just kidding. It was in Spanish, and I really did understand it all. But after the service a few other people said that they like it when this guy preaches because they can understand him, so it probably has less to do with my Spanish improving than I originally thought. If the church cared about us Americans AT ALL, they would have this guy preach every Sunday. I'll give it a few weeks and if they don't budge, I'll have to see if I can get "The W" to come over the Atlantic and throw his weight around. I'm talking some serious economic sanctions here. Seriously.

And today I'm thankful that people only hear the words that come out of my mouth, not the ones in my head. That would be ugly.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Have you ever been on the ride 'Earthquake!' at Universal Studios. Me neither, but as of this morning I have experienced the real deal. That's right, add 'been in an earthquake' to Mike Gorski's long list of firsts since arriving in Spain. I was writing a few emails this morning when my apartment building started moving. It was a very interesting feeling, short as it was.

After that I headed out to the market, but not before having an argument with someone over what you call a cordless drill. Apparently, it's only a drill if you use it to drill holes. I'm still calling it a cordless drill, NOT a screwdriver, even if you are using it to drive screws. I think that Black & Decker is just taking advantage of stay-at-home Moms who think they need two separate tools to do the job of one--the cordless drill.

The market went really well. I talked to quite a few people and gave out some quality Christian literature in all kinds of languages. Oh yeah, and I had a Granizado, which is basically a lemonade slurpee. It turned out to be ironic since the verse I put on the white board in front of our table read:


I wonder what people were thinking as they walked by the table. I'm sure it went something like this: "What's this? That sure is a handsome young lad there at that white table. And it seems that something is written on the front of the table. I can't quite make out what it says, so I better get a closer look. I say, he is even more strapping the closer you get to him. Must come from good breeding stock. And what is it that the sign says? Never have thirst or hunger? And what is it that this adonis has in his hand? A Granizado? Oh, that looks swell. Then the sign must be speaking of a spiritual or figurative thirst, of course. He is quite the specimen though."

Yes, it would've made a great picture, me standing in front of this verse while drinking a refreshing Granizado.

Today I'm thankful for my time in the market, meeting new people and practicing Spanish. I really enjoyed it a lot. And, I used the previously mentioned cordless drill to put together some shelves afterward. And Wilco's album 'Being There' (Disc One) is rocking my world right now.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The kind of mexican food you made as a freshman in college...but worse.

Last night I ate in a mexican restaurant called Chile Grande, and it was bad. It all started that morning in class when I overheard my teacher mention meeting a group of people to eat at a mexican restaurant. Hmm. Mexican food beats a ham and cheese sandwich (though not shawarma), I thought to myself. And I love Mexican food and haven't eaten any since arriving in Spain. Okay, I'll go.

My first mistake was letting my Corona Village withdrawals take over and move me to go. When you haven't eaten anything that even comes close to resembling spicy for three months, you start to get cold sweats, nausea, and the shakes. Just like an ex-smoker misses holding a cigarette in hand, my fingers were desperate to hold a corn chip weighed down with a good salsa.

My second mistake was believing my teacher when she told me it would be good, authentic, mexican food. I don't think she's ever had real mexican food. But it's not her fault. She's from spain and mexico is quite a ways away from spain the last time I checked.

The first plate was chips and salsa. The second, a quesadilla made up of what tasted like a few pieces of melted american cheese between flour tortillas. Next came the "tacos," which, in spain, means mini burritos that your little brother made when he got home from school every day--in fourth grade. Seriously, I've made better "tacos", and I don't remember ever making tacos in my life.

This was not a real mexican restaurant. It was a house of lies.

On a more serious note, this week I read Don Miller's "Blue Like Jazz." Honestly, I thought I was going to hate it, but I couldn't put it down. It was a great book and I'm going to refrain from saying any more on the subject because it will make up my next post. Also, I got back from morocco a week from tomorrow. I'll get some better pictures from my friends, but I'll put one on here to keep you interested. I guess that will take up another post as well.

Today, I'm thankful for what God has been teaching me through the aforementioned book. He has given me some amazing insight from the place I least expected it--an emergent sympathizing best-selling Christian author. This may have been the first really popular Christian book I've ever read. If the author is still alive it means it's not worth reading, right? Just kidding.

Good night.