amy courts: en route


midnight melodies
April 12, 2011, 12:16 am
Filed under: Baby, Music, Uncategorized

i’m awake in the wee hours of the morning more often than not these days, just not usually to make up songs for my to-be-born son. but tonight, that’s why i was awake: to sing to the boy in my belly a little hope i have for him. so i thought i’d share tonight’s (this morning’s?) lyrical melodies before morning dawns and with it brings the sensibility to wait, let the song linger, decide if it’s just right, and probably not share.

because for tonight, it’s exactly the prayer i muttered for E…with a melody you might get to hear later.

forgive me if it seems cruel to pray brokenness for my son. but i believe in the power of brokenness, and even more in the power of the One who puts us back together every day.

“your little heart”

it’ll hurt, my love
it’ll hurt a lot
beware the snare
or you will be caught

and when its teeth sink in
to your fragile skin
it’ll tear you apart

and break your little heart
it’ll break your little heart

hold still, my love
hold still and wait
when the father sings
are you listening?

let the words sink in
to your fragile skin
let them tear you apart

and break your little heart
break your little heart

wisdom stings
but with it brings
the medicine for mending
wisdom burns
the things you’ve learned
and teaches you to be
holy

awake, my love
awake and see
the father singing
over thee

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Not That It Would Have Changed a Thing
March 2, 2011, 10:39 am
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life, Music, Uncategorized

Ok. I’m calling in the big guns.

I just read this thing, “25 Things I wish I knew before having kids” from another mom on babycenter. And none of it looks terribly crazy. It all looks/sounds eerily familiar.

And it’s freaking me out.

According to this list, beginning in late April, I’m not going to sleep at least three years. Actually, scratch that. If I’m anything like my own mom, I’m not going to sleep for 18 years. And if my kids are anything like me, during years 13-16, I’ll sleep less than I do during their first months of life. You know, when they don’t sleep through the night, so neither do I?

My marriage is being turned on its head. My husband, whom I love and cherish and treasure more than anyone else in this universe, and I are going to have to re-learn how to be married, this time with kids. Forget about baby proofing. That’s easy. What about intimacy? What about date nights? What about sitting up til all hours and just laughing? Will I ever be not-tired enough to enjoy any of that again? How am I going to continue being a wife when I become a mother?

I am about to completely lose my former self (if I haven’t lost her already) and become someone new. Namely, a mother. Everything about me is going to shift. It’s gonna have to shift, lest I raise a son who a) hates me, and b) will desperately need years and years of expensive therapy. This is difficult for me, because I’m selfish. And I like it.

Career? What career? I’m not good at multi-tasking, and having-a-baby seems, from everything I can tell thus far, like a pretty time-consuming affair. I don’t have the first clue what to do or think about that.

According to the list, shower time will be my favorite 5 minutes of the day. Because those minutes are all mine.

According to the list, I won’t have a clean house for a year…and I shouldn’t mind. Clearly, these people don’t know me at all, or anything about my obsessive compulsion for things to be presentably clean for company. Which leads me to the next realization…

We will not have company over for years. Because I, apparently, will not be cleaning for that long.

And we chose to cloth diaper. I am tempted to reconsider the dollars we’re saving, the landfills we’re saving, and all that other nonsense, and trade all those savings in for one other salvation of utmost importance: My sanity.

Maybe, with just eight more weeks to go, I should ask for a few more weeks of bed rest?

 

Baby E w/ 8 Weeks Left to Bake



Endings and Beginnings, Interruptions and Delays
January 19, 2011, 10:52 am
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Music, Uncategorized

“There is nothing interchangeable about Christians. …You and I, whether we are men or women, have nothing to do with the choice of the gift. We have everything to do with the use of the gift.” (Elisabeth Elliot, via Ronne Sellers Rock)

This morning my friend Ronne’s blog brought to mind waves of worries that have been crashing in my mind for the last 26 weeks. Well, OK…the last 18 weeks (because I didn’t know I was pregnant until I was about 8 weeks along). Worries not about motherhood – that’s a whole other blog – but about life…and changes…about new and old adventures, and how to navigate both…worries that one will tear me from the other…just a lot of worries.

As you know, 2010 was a pretty gigantic year for me, professionally and personally. Maybe the biggest yet. In some ways, indeed many ways, I felt like it was the Step Into. Never mind that I, of all people, should know by now there is no such thing as The Big Break anymore…every step is merely on its way to the next step, no matter what. But I was ready to be gung-go. I was going to tour my heart to peaces. I was going to write til I was wrung dry and play hundreds of shows with very important people. I was going to “capitalize on the year’s experiences” by “investing in new, profitable experiences.”

And then I got pregnant.

….aaaand not on purpose.

Now, don’t read me wrong: This pregnancy…man! This pregnancy is exactly what I’d been praying for for nearly four and a half years. I prayed for “an accident.” I prayed for God’s timing, because I didn’t want our timing to bring us down if our plans were unsuccessful. I prayed for a leak, and I doubt I’ve ever been more grateful for it. Because God, in His great kindness, answered this prayer – for the first time ever – exactly as I’d prayed.

So on one hand, I know how perfectly planned our little cage fighter monkey boy is, despite that we had no part in the planning.

On the other hand, part of me is a deep well of fear. By getting pregnant, I disobeyed the explicit direction of one prominent player in the industry who, in trying to help me out, advised that I hold off on babies for at least two more years to give myself uninterrupted time to get this thing off the ground.

So now, I spend days wondering if my career is over, and how to keep it afloat. I wake up in the night wondering if, in taking some time off to have a baby, the last eight years will be forgotten and I’ll have to start over…and how will I do that? I wonder if moving to Minneapolis next Fall will help or hinder the back-to-it process. I wonder if whatever audience I’ve gathered over the years will stay with me, and patiently await something new, believing it’ll be better…or if they’ll scatter to the winds.

I wonder why God, in all His full knowledge, would choose now to interrupt this journey – at a kind of crucial moment – and set me on a new, very demanding journey.

I can’t help but worry that God is pulling me into a new adventure and closing the door on the last one, when I’d only barely gotten to taste its sweetness.

And if that’s the case…

I confess, with shame, I fear becoming small and unimportant and unknown. I fear losing whatever status I have. I fear becoming “just” a wife and a mom.

But then…I know God. I’ve witnessed too many times His impeccable Hand at work, and I believe with my whole person that, truly, “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived what God has planned for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

So I know that if, indeed, this is the end of one adventure, it’s only because the new adventure is more unthinkably grand than my small mind can bear, and will demand and deserve every ounce of me.

I also know this: I have long considered my song to be my gift. But the truth is songs are merely a tool in the hands of a masterful Craftsman. They are not the gift, but the expression of it. If I have come to idolize the tool, I’ve lost my way and can make no good use of it anymore. So it’s right that it should be taken from me, even if only for a time. Perhaps that’s what’s happening. Or perhaps God is handing me a brand new set of tools with which to do totally different things, lest I forget who is the Craftsman after all.

I have no idea what lay ahead. I don’t know what my career will look like in ten months or ten years. I don’t know if it’ll even matter once this tiny human God has seen fit to grow in me is finally in my arms and on his own feet and driving cars.

But I believe God is a God of perfectly timed accidents. I believe that even if this is the end of one way, it’s the very beginning of another. And it is right. I have witnessed time and again that even on His most foolish day, He is wiser than me at my best.

And I know that He is good and worth trusting.

So whatever lay ahead…well, it will pale all in its fantastic beauty.

**Take a moment to go read the blog that inspired and encouraged me today. I’ve wasted many words here, but those words give life. Especially to those lost in wondering who they are and what use they could be to God.



Top Ten of the New Millennium’s First Ten

Having realized January 1, 2011 was not only the beginning of a new year but a new decade as well, I feel obligated to contribute yet another top ten list to the great expansive black hole that is “Top Ten Lists From Random Users of Facebook, The Blogosphere, and Other Social Networking Utilities.”

Now, of course, because 2010 was a rather significant year in my personal history, there will inevitably be some carry-over, and the year will provide two equally significant memories, which do not “tie” for first, but which cannot be discluded here either. The same thing happens in 2001 and in a couple other years. But only because each of the significant happenings of those years are too significant to leave out of this story.

This will surely be an exercise in both memory (which will be entertaining not only because it’s fun, but because pregnant-woman memory is notoriously hole-y) and creativity (as I will try to only choose the best of the best and/or most significant of the significant memories, and find an accompanying photo to boot. Disclaimer: There will be times when no photo is retrievable aside from me digging through my attic and employing the scanner…in which case no photo will be applied. Because I am lazy today).

So once again, here goes.

IN THE YEAR 2000, I was half-way through my freshman year at Oak Hills Christian College, during which time I not only neglected to vote in the first elections for which I was actually eligible to vote (bad news), but I also performed for the first time with a band (good news). I tried my best at (and did an OK job of) rocking out to Jennifer Knapp’s “Into You” from her second studio album, ‘Lay It Down.’ This was the beginning of what would later become “something.”

IN THE YEAR 2001, some rather passionate and – if I may say – crazy men crashed three planes into the Twin Towers and near the Pentagon, and I paid $5/gallon for gasoline. No one wants to remember the gruesomeness of 9/11/01, much less the snowball of events it set in motion…least of all me. But in reality, this was the moment of the year. This was the event they were all referring to when they told me, “For every person, there will be an event so culturally and socially significant that she will be able to look back and remember exactly where she was, what she was doing, and what thoughts crossed her mind when the event struck.” For many in my parents’ generation, that day was – until 9/11, anyway – the day JFK was assassinated. For all of us, 9/11 will forever be that day.

(copyright 2001, Thomas E. Franklin)

Later in 2001, I met Jennifer Knapp for the first time. She does not remember meeting me then. I would not expect her to, but I nevertheless have the picture to prove it. It is significant for reasons to come.


IN THE YEAR 2002
, I made the first record I was ever going to make of some pretty amazingly crappy songs. And thanks to my fellow Oakies (that’s what we students at Oak Hills Christian College called ourselves when we were feeling particularly sentimental and/or stupid), the word got out that this girl Amy Courts made music. (I pray, to this day, that all copies of those early recordings have been either lost or destroyed. God forbid anyone should ever be subjected to that awful noise ever again.) (And once again, no photo can be provided. You’ll just have to trust me: it happened. And it really was that bad.)


IN THE YEAR 2003,
I graduated from college. I don’t have a picture to prove it – well, actually, I’m sure I do, but I’m not going to dig it out. I do have a diploma to prove it, which I’m also not going to dig out and scan. But it did happen. And I have made little use of my college education since. After that, I moved to Nashville TN to begin the career I was never meant to have…in professional musical performance. For the previous four years – all throughout my college career – I was dead set against a career having anything to do with music. Never mind that writing songs was easily the most satisfying and natural thing to do. Never mind all those Oakies who said, “you really should think about doing this for a living.” Never mind all that. Because I was NOT going to be “that girl” who moved to Nashville to become a singer and became a waitress instead. But alas…when God closes one door… Or rather, when God slams every. single. other. available door in your face, you go through the lone open door. So when the Denver doors slammed…and the Nebraska doors slammed…and the other doors slammed…there stood one lonely open door, behind which stood this rather amazing girl named Katie Spain who willingly offered a home to a perfect stranger. She is now my best friend. (Sorry, no photos of those early days in Nashville, or of me and Katie, so a picture of me with Katie’s daughters will have to suffice.)


IN THE YEAR 2004,
I met Paul Koopman, the unbelievable singer/songwriter who’s voice and songs so immediately melted me that I felt compelled to fearlessly approach him (which I NEVER do…or did…until then) to praise his undeniable talent. This began a professional relationship that would later turn, uh, well, pretty personal. He was, after all, the man who would later become my husband. That’s pretty significant…and (lucky you) self-explanatory.

(From the early days of our love affair)


IN THE YEAR 2005
, after nearly 18 months of dating – nine of which were long distance (which, might I add, is not for the faint of heart) – that man proposed to me. Also significant and self-explanatory.


IN THE YEAR 2006
, a number of really significant things happened, so I’ll only tell you the top two. First of all, we got married. This is a big deal. So big, it was the biggest thing to ever happen to me up until that point. It was the best day of my life up til then, but – I’m happy to say – has been exceeded by even happier days in the nearly five years since then. Amazing, eh? OH! And guess what else I got when I got married? Not just a husband…a stepson too. Who is, for the record, the greatest 14 year old on the planet (and I dare anyone to challenge that).

(copyright 2006 Lindsey Little)

And the other big thing that happened in 2006 was that I (finally, after nearly two years of working on it) released my debut EP. Again, a significant accomplishment not only because it was the reason for which I moved to Nashville in the first place, but also because these were seven songs I was truly proud to give to the world (for $.99/each or $10/album, thankyouverymuch). As it were, that album is still available for your purchase and enjoyment today. (Like how I did that? What kind of artist would I be if I didn’t slip a sale or two in here…? On that note, if you want to purchase the album or individual songs, simply click on the photo to be redirected to my store. MAN I’m good at this!)


IN THE YEAR 2007
, having decided (with the blessing of my husband) to quit my job and do this musical career full-on, balls-to-the-wall, I went on my first tour. This was a very big, impressive thing for me. I sent out hundreds of emails, made hundreds of phone calls, and (with the equal effort and help of my enduring tour mate and fellow indie artist Katy Kinard), set about playing something like 10 or 12 shows in 14 days…over Easter…in Kansas and Colorado. It was a rather huge step for us both, and more fun than I can say, despite that I somehow caught a cold that nearly killed me by the end (and despite that I returned from those 14 days with nodules on my vocal cords). What an incredible experience!


IN THE YEAR 2008
, I released my second album, a full length record with 10 of my most favorite songs. It was a bit of a bigger deal than the first (if you can imagine) simply because of everything we invested – time, energy, soul, money – to make it exactly what I wanted and needed it to be. It was also the first time I even considered – much less followed through with – recording a song written by someone else. But not only did I record the song; I took the album’s title from its lyrics. So if anyone is wondering why the song “Breathe” is so outstandishly brilliant compared to the other nine songs on the record, now you know: It’s because Paul Koopman (yes, my husband) wrote it. (Again, if you’re curious to hear and/or purchase the record, simply click on the album cover below. Wink, wink.)



IN THE YEAR 2009
, once again, two pretty amazing things happened, neither of which can be left out of this. Actually, three incredible things. I’ll start with the least incredible. First, in April and September of 2009 I ran my first half marathons (13.1 miles). It doesn’t sound that exciting, considering that literally hundreds of thousands of people cover this distance at hundreds of thousands of races every year. But for me – the girl who never even ran until 2004, and who certainly never saw herself covering any distance greater than 3 miles at a time – it was pretty huge. And it was the gateway into one of the most satisfying and rewarding things I do: run distances. Running long distances has saved me from a) going crazy, b) getting morbidly obese (thanks to the way too much food I consume; again: I run to eat), and c) devolving back into a grossly insecure person who controlled her life by anorexia. Running is perhaps the greatest lesson one will learn regarding what the body can do, and even more significantly what the mind can do…with the proper training and care.

In October 2009, I finally traveled to Gulu, Uganda…a place to which my heart had been aching to journey for three years prior. There’s no short way of telling that story, except to say it did exactly what I expected and feared it would do: change me, utterly and irrevocably. (The long story, for those who are interested, can be read here or by clicking on the picture below.)

And finally, upon returning to the States after those 10 incredible days in Gulu, the third significant thing happened: Jennifer Knapp – my favorite singer/songwriter of all time, who seven years prior simply vanished from the earth (well, OK, from the music scene anyway) – reappeared. She started following me on Twitter; she added me to her top friends on Myspace; and then – miracle of miracles – she came to one of my shows, specifically to see me, and liked it. She liked it so much that three weeks later she invited me to join her on stage at the Belcourt Theater here in Nashville and sing with her on some of my favorite of her songs. It was surreal. It was magical. And it really. Did. Happen. And THEN we became friends. (And I pinched myself about ten times daily, thinking, “What is happening? To what magical universe have I been transported where dreams really do come true!? This MUST be some hidden-camera Disney movie…”)

AND IN THE YEAR 2010, well…you all know the Top Ten (and Top Two) happenings last year! I went on tour with not just one, but TWO of my musical heroes: Jennifer Knapp AND Derek Webb (you can see that post here, or click the photo below)…

…And I made a Baby with Paul Koopman!


I HAVE NO IDEA
what 2011 or the decade ahead holds. But if it’s even half as good – and I trust it will be, given that the God I serve and am continually amazed by makes a habit of outdoing Himself all the time – I will be an evermore satisfied woman. And that’s really all I can hope for.

Cheers to the next ten years!



Top Ten of Twenty(20)Ten(10)
December 30, 2010, 9:32 am
Filed under: Baby, Home Life, Music, Running, Travel, Video

Because it’s the end of the year, and because everyone who’s anyone who has nothing better to do does this…I’ve decided to make a Top Ten of TwentyTen list for your perusal and enjoyment.

So here goes.

10. I ran 25 miles in my longest training run to date, while training for my first ever 50k ultra marathon. It took me 5 hours and 20 minutes, but I did it, and it was amazing.

9. I enjoyed traveling to countless cities – for free! – with Husband, thanks to his job which affords him this amazing perk of frequent flier miles which added up to a free one-year companion pass for me. Which means I can go anywhere with him, anytime, for nothin’. Go Southwest!

8. I’ve had the privilege of spending many days with some of the most incredible kids in the universe on a near-ongoing basis, some of whom are pictured here:

(This is Rebekah, my best friends’ oldest daughter, almost 4yo)

(And here’s Abigal, Rebekah’s sister, who is every drop of two years old.)

(The big kid would be Matt, my 14yo stepson, who occasionally tags along to help me babysit…and read to the young’ns…who LOVE him.)

7. I ran and finished my first ever trail race, covering nearly 12 miles and climbing upwards of 3,000 in elevation, at Chattanooga’s Stump Jump (I was supposed to run that 50k race I mentioned training for in #10, but alas, my #1 thing of 2010 kind of hampered that):



6. I ate some *amazing* food in some amazing cities, including but not limited to:

^^This incredible – and I mean incredible – hot dog at an Anaheim Angels game in California.

^^…as well as this unbelievable lobster in New York City.

^^…and this Green Curry in Alexandria, VA.

^^…and (finally) this unspeakably delicious bbq smorgasbord in Black Mountain, NC.

(It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that I did NOT eat to run, this year, but rather ran to eat!)


5. I enjoyed a rather intoxicating anniversary weekend away in …wait for it… Washington, DC with my Love:

(That’s the Lincoln Memorial from across the Reflection Pool.)

(And that’s Love and me in front of Lincoln…)


4. I somehow, through no fault or success of my own, managed to write one of my personal favorite songs to date, “Stronger Than You Think,” which has become a bit of a quiet anthem for myself and many I’ve had the privilege of getting to know:


3. I traveled to a LOT of states across the whole country on tour, running through and/or simply enjoying the sights of some incredible cities along the way, like these:

Seattle, WA…(the view from my hotel room balcony)…

 

….Greensboro, NC (the view from a 6 mile lakeside trail run)…

…Times Square in New York City (where I rather enjoyed looking grumpy for a moment, who knows why?)…

…The gorgeous shores of Long Island (NY)…

…and the Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, MA.

 


2. I spent over two months touring with two of my musical heroes, Jennifer Knapp and Derek Webb, during which time I literally shared the stage (and a van) with them, sang songs with them, ate food with them, made jokes with them, and took pictures with other super famous cats like these guys (they’re called “Hanson”):

AAAAAAND…

the number one thing I did in 2010….


1) I MADE A BABY!! (With the help of Husband, of course!) He’s currently 23 weeks baked in my uterus for an oven, and due on April 27, 2011. He will, no doubt, be number one on next year’s Top Ten list as well!

 

(Momma at 18 weeks)

(Momma at 22 weeks)



Stronger Than You Think
November 15, 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Music, Video

It’s taken me a while to get a live video worthy of posting, but thanks to the superb videographic talent of our good friend (and tour host for two days), Mason Taylor of a’tris, we finally got a good one last night (11/14/10) at our Traveling Troubadours tour stop at The Living Room in New York City.

“Stronger Than You Think” is near and dear to my heart, and it’s my hope that it reaches yours as well. Watch, listen, enjoy, share, comment. I’d love to hear what it means to you. I’m always blown away by how a song that starts as a conversation in my own mind expands to reach so many. When songs like this come to – and then from – me, I’m humbled to be the conduit.

Lyrics are below…in case you’re interested.

 

“Stronger Than You Think”
(by amy courts | [c]2010 amalia musica)

This isn’t what I want
This isn’t what I want for you
But it is what it is
It’s not the way you planned
But it’s what you find in hand
And you have got to do the best you can

(chorus)
And I know it’s gonna break you down
It’s gonna hurt like hell
Before it makes a sound
And I know it reaches everything
But you are stronger than you think you are
Right now

This isn’t what I want
This isn’t what I want for you
But it is what it is
It’s not an easy road
And no one wants to go
But it’s the only way for you my friend

(chorus)

[bridge:]
And it’s gonna hurt you more
Before it starts to feel okay
But it won’t be this way
No, it won’t be this way
For good

(chorus)



The Accountability-From-Afar Factor
July 8, 2010, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Culture, Faith and Faith Life, Music, Politics

I’ve been trying to figure out an eloquent way of saying this for a while. But alas, I can’t wax poetic, because it’s still a thought in process. Either way, bear with me.

While touring with Jennifer Knapp and Derek Webb, I watched and listened as a lot of “Christians” acted like the devil.

Jennifer told the world through a couple of specially chosen interviews that she is – as many already assumed and/or suspected – gay.

Thereafter, I watched as her message boards and blogs were flooded with comments like, “Burn in hell, Lesbo!” Some were more blatantly condemning than others; some were simple notes sending kind though not necessarily welcome prayers and advice; some were words of praise and gratitude for being the hero the Christian gay community has been waiting for.

Some people ignored Jennifer altogether and just wrote blogs, using the words “Jennifer Knapp” and “Homosexual” interchangeably, as if her sexuality is the whole of her personhood.

Some called for a modern witch hunt; many screamed from the rooftops that a “Gay Christian” is about as real as a unicorn; many threw around Bible verses they were told in Sunday School served as “proof” that gay is wrong and gays will burn.

And I received a modest share of comments and notes asking me if it was true, how I could tour with her, whether or not I was using my influence to “bring her back to Christ” or “win back her soul from the devil.”

I responded to most of those with a simple word of advice: “If you think it’s really that important that she know and hear your opinion on the matter, get in touch with her yourself.”

To which I received many a response of, “But I don’t have a relationship with her – you do!”

To which I responded, “Exactly. And you don’t have a relationship with me either. So what business is it of yours?”

To which I received many a response of, “But God commanded us to hold one another accountable!” Or “But Paul said, ‘blessed is the one who brings his fallen brother back to Truth!'”

And it got me thinking. About accountability. About our responsibility to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and our responsibility for one another to God.

Do we really believe ourselves capable of changing another person’s heart or mind?

Do we really believe we are responsible for saving others’ souls?

And if changing hearts and saving souls ARE our responsibility as humans…then what need have we for God? What work does the Holy Spirit have to do? If Christ alone and His work on the Cross are insufficient and He needs us humans to help Him out in the process…well, is He really worth it?

Obviously, I believe we were created for relationship and have great influence in the lives of those to whom we’re close. We’re meant to walk together, crawl together, run together. To carry one another’s burdens and lighten each others’ loads. Sometimes, we’re there to help each other see when we’re carrying unnecessary baggage, and then help each other unload.

For instance, I know that I – perhaps more than anyone else – have power and influence to change my husband’s mind or affect his heart-attitude. I know him, and he knows me, and we trust one another to such a degree that honesty is both expected and honored. If he’s being a jerk or is struggling with something that’s hurting us both, I can tell him so and he’ll listen. If I’m being a b!tch or am dwelling too much on vanity or pride, he can tell me so and I will listen. We listen because we know we want only the best for each other. And because we’ve developed a depth of intimacy in which that sort of accountability is being perfected daily.

But on the other hand, when some unknown Joe Shmoe from Facebook messages me about how immature or “out of sync” I must be in my spiritual life to have gone on tour with an artist he doesn’t know, won’t listen to, and despises simply because she’s gay (and therefore despises me by association)…well, I’m disinclined to do anything but tell him to shove it. He claims he’s holding me accountable, but in reality he’s just sticking his nose in someone else’s deeply private business.

I get it, though. Everyone has an opinion and feels “spiritually led” to share it when a public figure falls from grace. Everyone wants to be the one who leads her back to Jesus. Everyone wants to be the one who gets that extra shot of glory for bringing the lost lamb home. (And let’s be honest – we say we’re doing it for God’s glory, but we’re really doing it for ourselves and our long-overdue fifteen minutes, right Pastor Botsford?) It’s kind of like how every girl wants to be The Girl who makes the Bad Guy turn good.

But here’s the thing: Jesus was the one who went after the lost sheep, not the other sheep. Why? Because the other sheep were just as prone to getting lost.

And when Paul preached about holding one another accountable and winning the lost brother back, he wasn’t telling the Ephesians to hold the Philippians accountable, or the Galatians to hold the Corinthians accountable. I believe I’m safe to assume he was telling the church at Ephesus to care for its own, and the Galatians to care for its own.

But we’ve lost that reality today. Instead of taking seriously the responsibility to hold those *actually* close to us accountable and to invest deeply in those with whom we commune and fellowship on a daily basis, we’ve become a worldwide pool of public pastors who hold all the public figures accountable, whether or not we know them personally.

I’m pretty sure it can all be blamed on the advent of the social network. We “friend” one another on Facebook and Myspace and follow each other on Twitter, and suddenly we believe we’re close enough to the Stars to insert ourselves and our opinions into their lives…the lives of people we “know” based on 140 character snippets, and carefully chosen and worded dialogues.

When you add to this new “friendliness” (which isn’t authentic friendship at all, I might add) the natural anonymity the worldwideweb provides, we each are suddenly gifted with a platform from which to safely and anonomously spew venom at those we don’t know from Adam.

From behind a computer screen, we can play preacher and savior without anyone ever knowing we’re addicted to porn, are morbidly obese, or are stealing from the government. We can create a personality that doesn’t remotely mirror reality. And with our perfectly manicured fake personalities, we claim all authority to brazenly condemn to hell those who, if ever we saw in real life, we wouldn’t even have the balls to approach…much less berate.

My point is this: Over the past few months, I’ve watched a lot of people say (type?) a lot of truly hateful things…things they would never say to true Friends; things they would never say to another person in real life because, in real life, they know it’d be wildly inappropriate; things they themselves would never listen to or learn from if their dirty laundry was aired in public; things they would certainly never say to another person in the presence of Christ.

And yet every single day we – you, them, me, we – vomit on the internet.

I just wonder, which version is the real you or the real me? Am I, in real life – in real reality – the person who thoughtlessly speaks her mind regardless of how hurtful the words might be, simply because I don’t intimately know the person to whom I’m responding and thus don’t think or care about how it might damage them in the long run? Or am I the person I want to be? The person who strives to see and illuminate the Image of God in everyone, whether I’ve met them face to face for coffee or just word to word on a Facebook forum…

When so much is lost or blanketed in web translation – when we can’t see facial expressions or hear tonal inflections or read body language or see the rage or fear or sadness behind the eyes – I think we lose some of our humanity too, and instead treat each other like avatars rather than people with beating hearts.

Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud and wondering if it’s even truly possible – much less reasonable or Biblically mandated – for Jane Jones from Podunk, MS to hold me accountable or “speak into my life” when she’s never seen me or met me, much less known my very heart?