Sin will always appears as a trifle to those whose view of God is small. If you were to discover a little boy pulling the legs off of a grasshopper, you would think it strange and perhaps a little bizarre. If the same little boy were pulling the legs off of a frog, that would be a bit more disturbing. If it were a bird, you would probably scold him and inform his parents. If it were a puppy, that would be too shocking to tolerate. You would intervene. If it were a little baby, it would be so reprehensible and tragic that you would risk you own life to protect the baby. What’s the difference in each of these scenarios? The sin is the same (pulling the limbs off). The only difference is the one sinned against (from a grasshopper to a baby). The more noble and valuable the creature, the more heinous and reprehensible the sin. And so it is with God.
If God were a grasshopper, then to sin against Him wouldn’t be such a big deal and eternal punishment wouldn’t be necessary. But God isn’t a grasshopper, He’s the most precious, valuable, beautiful being in the universe. His glory and worth are infinite and eternal. Thus to sin against an infinitely glorious being is an infinitely heinous offense that is worthy of an infinitely heinous punishment.
We don’t take sin seriously because we don’t take God seriously. We have so imbibed of the banality of our God-belittling spirit of the age that our sins hardly trouble us at all. Our sin seems small because we regard God as small. And thus the penalty of hell—eternal conscious suffering under the wrath of God—always seems like an overreaction on God’s part. If we knew God better, we wouldn’t think like that.
Denny Burk. February 26, 2011


me vs. the phlebotomist

This morning I drove to the Red Cross to donate blood. Someone called me earlier this week, asking me to donate. They said if I come they'll give me tickets to the Blues Festival in March and a T-shirt.

Let's face it. I'm not one to pass up free stuff. And I generally don't really mind giving blood. Since I've lived in Nashville, I've donated 9 pints. So I made my appointment and went. The place was packed.

I tell the phlebotomist every time which vein to use. I know which veins wimp out halfway through and which one works (even if it doesn't look like it will at first). And every time the phlebotomist thinks I'm crazy and decides she will try a "better" vein first. To make a long story short, she put the needle in the vein I told her not to. I didn't look but I heard her say, "Oh, shoot," and she proceeded to dig around in my right arm before giving up.

Apparently I have really small veins. She asked if she could at least look at my left arm. She found a vein, and 45 minutes after I got in the chair, I got out of it with two bandaged arms.

I got my T-shirt (a large ... I gave it to Nate) and a ticket to the Blues Festival. One ticket. What am I going to do with one ticket? Even if we bought another (they're $40, so we won't) it wouldn't be in the same section. Anyone interested in going to the Blues Festival alone?


keller in nashville.

Tonight Nate and I went down to Christ Presbyterian Church to hear Tim Keller (pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City) speak on his new book, King's Cross. Keller spoke on Mark 5: the maddening delays of Jesus and God's grace on His own schedule. Then he answered questions and signed copies of his book.

Tim Keller answering questions during Q&A

Nate owns the book, but he forgot it at home so he couldn't get it signed.
I took his picture of Nate with Keller anyway.
(with being a relative term)

Tim Keller and me.
Well, sort of.

I'm in a women's group working through Tim Keller's study on Galatians. I bought Nate Generous Justice for Christmas. One of my favorite things I've read of his so far is his sermon on the parable of the prodigal sons.

Listen to this: Keller's sermon on Luke 15, the prodigal sons
Watch this! (Do it.) What Is the Bible Basically About? (clicky)


they're on to me.

via etsy: eggagogo


I bought a photo from my friend Anne, and then I used a Groupon to get it printed on a 16"x20" piece of canvas. Our little Nashville window to the Konza prairie, which is located just outside Kansas State University's home of Manhattan, Kansas. Also pictured is the corner of our new 3-piece sectional.

I love the accent pillows that came with it (they have a teal blue in them).The snuggle up blanket is where Miles sits and looks out the window. This corner of the sectional is also Miles' favorite place to sleep. If you sit in his spot, he might bite you. (Just ask Anne!)

On the wall parallel to the sectional, Nate put up five of his pictures. He bought them from a graphic designer friend who was fundraising for a trip overseas. Here are three of them (Matthew, Mark, and Acts). We also have posters for Luke and John.

Last night Sam and Anne came over for dinner. I made cheesy Italian tortellini (not in a slow cooker though; I modified this recipe based on the reviews) and it was good! I also made breadsticks and served hot marinara sauce with them. Having dinner with Samne every week is so great. After dinner we played Hearts. Nate always wins. Anne always gets mad because we dump the queen of spades on her every time. We love them. :)



I got out the door later than usual this morning because I tried heating my chai on the stove instead of in the microwave. It took a lot longer and was deceivingly hot, so I burned my tongue on the first sip and then couldn't taste the rest of it anyway. As I hit the I-65N/I-40W split, I cut someone off when I was trying to move two lanes to the right at 55 mph within a quarter mile (do the math … I have 13.75 seconds to get over there) so I could hit my 209A exit to Broadway. It's a tricky maneuver, but I'm glad I attempt it at 6:12 a.m. while traffic is relatively light. I thought I had it easy this morning until a ninja car started honking.

An Open Letter to the Person I Cut Off in Traffic This Morning

Dear Nashville Driver,

Hello. I'm very sorry I cut you off in traffic this morning. I honestly didn't see you while I was trying to move over two lanes in the quarter mile before exit 209A. Thank you for honking and letting me know you were there. I kind of understand why you chose to pull right up to my bumper and turn your brights on; it's clear you were unhappy. If I could have pulled over and apologized to you face-to-face, I would have. But you looked like you were in a hurry. I feel really bad, OK? I'm sorry! Please forgive me. I hope you have a good day.


I honestly think I felt way worse about it than that driver felt angry. I think I'm embarrassed easily that way—when I do something wrong on accident and someone points it out. I'm glad there's grace for that.

In other news, Brandon Heath was at LW this morning. He spoke and played three songs at chapel. Brandon was the first artist I interviewed for our devotional magazine.

Nate and I bought a sectional. It's chocolate brown and really comfy and has a high back (nice for us tall people). If you come over to sit on it, you won't want to leave. Now my old furniture is hanging out in the second bedroom. We're going to (gasp!) put some pictures up on the wall! Nate has five incredible pieces and I ordered a canvas with a print of the Konza prairie that Anne took. It should get here soon. That's right, after a year and a half in this house, there will be things on the walls! And when people come over, we can offer them a place to sit. I never thought this day would come.

For those of you who are wondering, "How's the wedding planning coming?" (I seriously answer this question about three times a day.) The answer is: slowly. I don't know what I'm doing, so if you have planned a wedding before and want to volunteer your assistance, I will make you a cheesecake. I will make you a dozen cheesecakes. Whatever you want.


of whom i am the worst.

The saying is trustworthy
and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners.
1 Timothy 1:15


the great why.

In the beginning of earthly history, God's purpose was to bless his people so that all peoples would glorify him for his salvation. ... This is the final, ultimate, all-consuming, glorious, guaranteed, overwhelmingly global purpose of God in Scripture.

God blesses his people with extravagant grace so they might extend his extravagant glory to all peoples on the earth.

Our hearts resonate with the idea of enjoying God's grace. We bask in sermons, conferences, and books that exalt a grace centering on us. And while the wonder of grace is worthy of our attention, if that grace is disconnected from its purpose, the sad result is a self-centered Christianity that bypasses the heart of God.

If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of "The message of Christianity is that God loves me." Or someone might say, "The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die for me."

As wonderful as this sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn't it incomplete, based on what we have seen in the Bible? "God loves me" is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if "God loves me" is the message of Christianity ... the object of Christianity ... [is] me.

The message of biblical Christianity is not "God loves me, period," as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make him--his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness--known among all nations.

We are not the end of the gospel; God is.

David Platt, Radical. (2010) pp. 69-70, emphasis mine.



I recently answered some questions about my job for a professional writing senior at Michigan State University. Here are my answers.

I'll introduce myself. I'm Alyssa Reeves, a 23-year-old production editor of preteen curriculum in the Childhood Ministry Publishing department at a large Christian resources company in Nashville, TN. I graduated from Kansas State University in 2009 with a B.A. in English literature.

  • What got you interested in the field?
    I've loved to write since I was in kindergarten, but I understood how hard it is to make a living as a writer. My senior year of high school, I figured I would major in marketing. That way I could write a little copy here and there, but there would seemingly be more job security.  I wasn't interested in marketing though. I remember my senior English teacher required every senior to write a 10-page research paper and have a peer edit it. Almost everyone asked me! I probably edited 200 pages, and I loved it. Growing up, English grammar and the art of writing seemed to come naturally. I headed to college determined to be an editor.
  • What in your education prepared you for your current job?
    I walked into my advisor's office just before my freshman year started at K-State and I said, "I want to be an editor." She said, "Major in English literature." So, I did. I spent college reading lots of books. I managed to land an editing job with the university's literary journal for two years, but it was very brief. Honestly, I don't feel like my classes prepared me. I suppose reading and the exposure to quality literature can make you a better writer/editor, but looking back, journalism might have been a better choice because you could take copy editing classes. At the time, I knew I did not want to get into newspapers, so I didn't really consider it.
  • What have you learned though this job that you didn't know before?
    Everybody needs an editor! It's true; I respect our writers very much and they are dedicated to their work and do a good job, but at times I'm not sure some of them paid much attention in 6th grade English! On the bright side, it's job security. Seeing how the publishing process works is fascinating too. There are so many people who work together to develop a product, put it together, market it, and get it in the stores.
  • Could you tell me about your average day?
    I work on two products full time: a dated Sunday School curriculum and a monthly devotional magazine. Occasionally I'll be a part of another project. Last spring I helped put together two children's activity books and I am currently part of a two-year project: an undated preteen resource for churches. That being said, I am at my desk each morning at 6:30 a.m. (I'm done by 3 p.m.; our schedules are flexible. You can come in at 8:30 and work until 5 if you aren't a morning person and don't mind rush hours.)

    Depending on where I we are in the schedule, I could be doing any number of things. The first step is gathering the copy from our writers. We hire outside writers, and they e-mail in their assignments. Our graphic designers use InDesign to build pages, and I flow the text in using Adobe InCopy. Our writers use templates and we have style sheets embedded, so headers and bullets and every other piece is automatically formatted on the pages. Once all the text is in, I give each part an HTML tag and then I do the first edit. As production editor, I'm mostly in charge of making sure the commas are in the right places and the wording sounds right, but if I have an opinion about content, my bosses (content editors) are always happy to hear my input.

    After the first edit, the content editor reads it. Then it comes back to me, then it goes back to my boss. Our designer makes it look pretty and adds any necessary art or graphics, and then we read it again. We send a copy to an appraisal reader to look it over, the editorial project leader reads it, and then the graphic designer sends us an electronic soft proof. It's our last chance to make any corrections before it goes to press. In other words, I read a lot .
    I've had to get glasses since starting this job, and I don't read very many books for fun anymore since I read all day.

    So, most of my day is spent in my windowless office at my desk. I am glad to actually have an office with a door, and it is quite spacious, and I love working on a iMac. (Don't be an editor if you can't stand being by yourself most of the day.) About once a month, I have a team meeting with the rest of the preteen team (me--the production editor, two content editors, two designers) to make sure we are on schedule; we have meetings with graphic designers to discuss art, we have department meetings every month, and sometimes a group meets to talk about products. I also do a few random other tasks like provide product information for parent and pastor newsletters or put together writer contracts.

  • What job did you have before this?
    This is my first job. Straight out of college I moved to Nashville to do a summer internship with this company . I happened to intern under an editor who was planning on leaving in the fall to be a teacher, so basically she trained me all summer how to do her job. When my internship ended, I applied for the position and was hired. I feel very fortunate to be working my dream job straight out of college. Publishing is notoriously very difficult to get into; you usually have to know somebody. An internship right after graduation was really great because I had a chance to prove myself before applying for a full-time position. Everything fell perfectly into place to make it happen, and I feel like God has me here for a reason.
  • What's next in your career?
    I hope to stay in this position for awhile. I really love what I do and I think our work is significant. The next step up would be content editor. There are a lot of people at my company who have worked here longer than I've been alive. I'd like to write something of my own someday. Right now that all sounds pretty great, but I'm engaged to be married in July and though we plan to stay in Nashville for awhile, I'll go wherever the Lord leads us.


belle meade.

For my birthday, Nate took me to Belle Meade Plantation. We toured the mansion,
walked around the winery, and checked out the sprawling property. It was cool.

This is the Carriage House. Inside were several old carriages and
stagecoaches and a sleigh. I'm thankful for my Nissan Versa.

I'm also thankful for jeans and running shoes and T-shirts.

The back of the mansion. There was a huge building to the left where they smoked hogs in large quantities.

Rocking chairs on the porch. Classic Southern necessity.
The front of Belle Meade mansion. The Civil War didn't have a huge impact on Nashville ...
when the Union army came in, they took the city without a fight. It was known as "The Great Panic."
Union soldiers were posted here to protect the house, and there was a skirmish one day on
the front lawn. As a result, you could see bullet marks on the front columns of the house.

One of the slave cabins on the property. Several slaves stayed after the emancipation and worked
as paid servants. They helped take care of the house and the horses. (The family here raised and
bred and trained racing horses ... one of them, Iroquois, was the first American horse to win some
derby in England. He was so famous that they shut down Wall Street to have a parade for him.
Kind of equivalent to winning the Super Bowl.

There was a 45-minute tour of the inside of the mansion, but no photography was allowed. Nate and I headed out for an early dinner at Outback steakhouse, and then we came home and Sam and Anne came over for ice cream cake and a round of Hearts.

Fun birthday. Here's to being 23.


two prodigals.


The governing theme in this parable [the parable of the Two Prodigals] (and all the stories of Luke 15) is that sin is running from Godavoiding, escaping, saying, "I don't need you!"

This is a much more profound concept than "breaking the rules." Why? Flannery O'Connor grasped this when she said of one of her characters, "There was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin." How could that be? Here is a man who knows that the only way to avoid Jesus as Savior is to avoid sin. If I feel I am a good person, I may look to Jesus as Example, or as Helper, or as Strengthbut I won't need to utterly rely on him for every breath and obey him unconditionally. If I am a good person, then I have rightsJesus owes it to me to listen to my prayers, protect me and reward me.

This is clearly the attitude of the elder brother.

Tim Keller, "The two prodigal sons" (Luke 15:1-3,11-32), a sermon by Tim Keller.



Well, it's snowing again in Nashville. You know what that means:

Ah, yes. Nobody likes driving in the snow. Lots of accidents. Fortunately it didn't start getting too heavy until 3:30, just as I got home. Nashville is expected to get 1.5" ... a dusting compared to the 16" dumped on my hometown overnight. The difference is that in Kansas there are no hills. People here have started abandoning their cars and walking because they can't make it up the inclines. Some friends have reported 4-hour commutes home with an average speed of 4.5. I'm glad I'm in for the night.

Nate and I went to Kroger after work to get milk (because I really was out and wanted milk to put in my tea ... regardless of the snow). When we got home, the snow was falling in huge wet chunks so we stood in it for awhile.

Miles did not love it.

For dinner, I made chicken quesadillas. Technically more like chicken fajita quesadillas a.k.a. amazing. Nate said they were in his top 10, maybe even #1. (He says Top 10 about almost every dinner though.)

five months.

Five months from today …
the big day!

How is wedding planning coming?

✓ church + pastor
✓ date
✓ wedding dress
✓ bridesmaids and groomsmen
✓ guest list

And … that's about it.




a dress.

Tonight I went to Cool Springs with my friend Tonya to shop for a wedding dress. I found one! It was actually the very last one I tried on (and not just because I was tired of trying on dresses). I loved the first one I tried on, but it didn't have a train. The last one I tried was similar with a train. They didn't have my size or straight up white, so they have to order it and it won't be here until June! It could get here earlier though, and I'll have at least 3 or 4 weeks before the wedding if I need any alterations (I don't think I will). Plus that will make it easier to keep Nate from sneaking a peek. So, one big decision down. Nate says all we need to do now is get people to the church and feed them. The rest is details, right? :)

5 months, 5 days.



Over the last five months, I've been trying new things to cook. It's been a lot of fun. Just because it tastes good doesn't mean it's hard to make. Tonight I made dinner and a cheesecake (for Sunday evening).

Oreo cheesecake for a Super Bowl party. Oreo cookie crust.

 Cheesecake filling and cookie topping.

 Dinner: Baked Chicken Teriyaki. Nate puts it in his Top 5 favorites.

Baked Chicken Teriyaki with sticky rice and green beans.


absence of shadow.

GOBBLER'S KNOB, Penn. -- The world-famous weather-reading groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted spring was on its way Wednesday from his home at Gobbler's Knob, near Punxsutawney, Penn.

His prediction offered the US some hope of respite as the country faced one of its largest winter storms since the 1950s. Thirty states were crippled by what the National Weather Service described as "life-threatening" weather conditions that stretched across 2,000 miles from Texas to Maine.

According to American folklore, if the rodent sees his shadow, then the country can expect six more weeks of winter. If he does not, then spring is on the way. (via)
While the rest of the country is getting slammed with snow drifts as high as cars, highway whiteouts, and road conditions so bad that people are driving their tractors to work …

My brother, Geoff, took this picture near Ithaca, NY.
I stepped outside this morning to a few flurries and 25°F. The wind was brisk but things here in Nashville are looking fairly good. (I knew there was a good reason for moving to the South.)

Yesterday I received a notice in the mail that I've been summoned for jury duty on March 21. That's kind of cool. Except I have to miss work and the jury information website recommends bringing reading materials, so I have a feeling there will be a lot of waiting around. But what makes me even more excited is that March 21 is the day after the first day of spring!

In other news, last night I finished workout #2 of 39 in my quest to be a runner. Friday afternoon I am going to try on wedding dresses. Tonight I'm doing my first grocery trip in February after planning meals. I might go over budget, but I'm really excited about some of these recipes. Today or tomorrow I'm interviewing Cloverton; Yancy next Tuesday; and something with Josh Wilson is in the works. Sunday is the Super Bowl … we're watching with friends and I'm bringing an Oreo cheesecake.


runnin', runnin'

I've always kind of wanted to be a runner. I think I like the idea of running (in the same way I like the idea of writing a book or painting my walls or reading all the books I bought that are just sitting on my bookshelf … sounds great in theory), and sometimes when people meet me they say, "Are you a runner?" And I have to shamefully say, "No. I was a sprinter and jumper in high school, though! And I have good genes and a decent metabolism."

Our P.E. teacher made us run 1.5 miles twice a month and it wasn't bad, but I was in a lot better shape then. I even enjoyed running the mile in volleyball practice every week, but that's because after 7 minutes, you were done. It wasn't a lot of time to think about whether or not you were enjoying yourself. My biggest problem with running in the past seems to be boredom … I don't know what to think about and so I usually think, Okay, I want to stop. I'm ready to stop. Yeah, I should stop.

I've started a running program called Couch to 10K. It's 13 weeks and apparently at the end of it, I'm supposed to be able to run 6.21 miles. And I know a couple other people at work who are doing it (like almost done with it) and I kind of want to be in that club. Kind of really. I want to be a runner.

So I started the first workout on Sunday, about 2.5 miles of walking and running. I made a CD mix of upbeat songs so when I run, I'm saying the lyrics in my head instead of thinking about running. Sunday's workout felt good, but I was ready to get off after 34 minutes on the treadmill. At work yesterday I started feeling sick and by the time I drove home at 3 p.m., I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out; I didn't know what was wrong with me. I got home and Nate was there and I laid down. Nate got some dinner for me and after eating I felt miraculously better.

I was telling one of my coworkers, who is a runner, that I wanted to start this 13-week program, and she said, "Oh yeah, I know a guy who did that and he lost 60 pounds!" I'm pretty sure I would die if I lost 60 pounds … so, that's a pretty good deal. I become a runner and I get to eat a lot. Win. Win.
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