Back…WAY back to the basics

November 29, 2008

(Disclaimer: This was not written with any one person in mind. But I could have written it to myself. And the tone was one of pleading, not sarcasm. Just so you know.)

I am a little sad that I feel the need to write this. But between kids saying mean things over the holiday weekend, terrorists shooting up India and the ubiquity of caustic remarks from the terminally sardonic, it seems the world needs a reminder. And I do, too.

Be nice.

Seriously. You’re not suppose to say mean things or hit people, neither with words or bullets. I know that it flies on TV and in the movies, but in real life, violence isn’t cool or entertaining and being a smart ass at the expense of the person sitting across from you just isn’t ok. Oh, I know. Disguising your anger and insecurity as sharp wit makes it feel ok. But it’s really not. Those wounds are landing on a piece of humanity for which Jesus was humiliated and brutalized.

Everytime you have contact with another person, you have the unique chance to bring him life instead of eroding his spirit. You are given that moment to encourage and teach. Don’t exchange such a significant gift for a false sense of self-importance.

Play nice, kids. Play nice.


Just stay here with me a while

November 23, 2008

I had this boss once – no one you know – who gave me assignments but not too much direction. I’m the kind of girl that doesn’t like to get to far without making sure I’m going in the right direction. I check recipes, ask for directions when I’m lost, and I don’t put too much work into the details unless I am sure the concept is firm. I sent him drafts and wouldn’t get feedback for days. When he told me he was disappointed in my lack of ability to get things done, I conveyed my frustration with his lack of feedback and the ever-changing rules. He said, “I was testing you. I wanted to see how you’d respond.” In this particular conversation, I actually had the courage to shoot back. “Ok. Don’t test me. It’s much more efficient if you just tell me what you want.”

I’ve been saying this same thing to God lately. This “season” (I believe that is the Christianese term) has been really hard. It’s been really good in a lot of ways, but I am definitely waiting for a season of blessing. And by “blessing” I mean an improvement in the details of my life. I would be dishonest if I acted as if I am content with the endless spiritual blessings this time has afforded me. And while I wouldn’t change it, I would like to have a job and a place of my own, not to mention money for Christmas presents. As much as I hate the commercialism of this time, gift giving is my love language and Christmas gives me a great opportunity to love.

I’m straying.

God gave me really wonderful times when His presence was so clear and I felt His love so deeply. But He doesn’t want me to have baby faith. Anyone can believe Him when He is clear. Eventually He hid, albeit right beside me, so I could learn to walk with Him and believe Him when I couldn’t see His hand. During this time, I think He asked me to rely on Truths He taught me when it was easy.

Last night on my walk, I asked Him what more I needed to learn before He would usher me into a season of relief from the hard road we’ve been walking. “It’s more efficient if You just tell me what you want.” I asked Jesus to show me what I was missing. Of course this very long, very hard time MUST be a result of failing the essay portion of the test. If I can figure out what He is trying to teach me and respond, I will get a check by my name, maybe a gold star for my REALLY spiritual moments, and pass onto the next phase, a more lucrative, less lonely place. And there it is again. If I can just “do the right thing” my life will be blessed. And blessings look like financial comfort, lots of friends, and a sweet life sitch. I would love to see the look on His face when I recite my list of things I’ve ‘done right’ in the last 24 months that have certainly earned me a cosmic break from the trials.

But then the Spirit spoke to me. With every reason and right to berate me for my chronic legalism, He gently asked me, “Why do you think I’m waiting for you to ‘get it right’? You will never get there fully. Can you just enjoy this time with Me? I am using this time to reinforce all of the things I’ve taught you. I’m making your faith stronger. Just stay here with Me a while.”

How easy it is for me to see my life with earthly eyes. How quickly I am distracted from His faithfulness to me and the purpose He is establishing in my life. In the midst of my need to earn my way out of this season, I miss the reality that I am in a blessed season. Blessed because my Master is inviting me to just stay here with Him a while.


In case you’re too busy to go to church, here is something to get you through.

November 13, 2008

Sing

Bible


November 13, 2008

I know how you see me. I can hear the distance in your casual, “how are ya?” There You give just enough words as to not completely abandon me, but they hardly makes a significant connection, especially when you don’t wait for an answer. And the truth is sometimes hard, and is always more time consuming than I know you can tolerate. I know you’re busy and there’s little room in your life for anything more. I know I’m not what I was or what you thought I was. I know how important appearances are to you. I used to have glittery things to show for my life – things that made me “enough.” But it was really the root of my ugliness. They were trophies I needed to prove my worth. They are gone now and I have only Him. From the outside, I’m nothing to be proud of. There’s nothing very pretty about where my life is. Our association hardly makes you look good. I know that. I just wish you would take the time to look closer, below the surface. Look beyond the easy answers. Look beyond the bloody scars left by my Master’s carving. Maybe you will see the beauty that destitution left. Maybe you will see a heart that loves you and longs for your sincerity and your attention. And maybe that’s why I don’t have it. It’s God’s merciful jealousy that refuses to give what would take His place. I find myself longing to know that you see something in me that makes me worth your time. Is there enough good in me that makes you want to know me and not just relate to me from your assumptions? Do I ever even cross your mind?

Don’t think too much of yourself. You’re not the only golden idol in my temple. You are just one of many in the pantheon of my heart. You are there, insecurely perched on the pedestal I built for you. And I worship there more than I wish to admit, always aching for your nod and the approval of the others I’ve chosen to deify.

I know if only I could lift my prostrate head long enough to gaze beyond these empty gods, I could see the One lifted above all others. Only his alter is a cross, and its magnificence calls to me. It humbly asks, “Why do you need them to make you feel worthy? Is it not enough that I chose you? Does it not satisfy you to know that I sing over you, I delight in you, and I pursue you? You’re lovely enough. My thoughts towards you are like the stars in the heavens. I see you with the eyes that made you. What more could their approval offer?”

Is this not what I desire from man? He freely gives to every need in my heart and I return His love with the same half-hearted attention you give that leaves me so cold and alone. I find it ironic that longing to be “enough” in the your eyes denies my claims that He is enough for me. The only One worthy of all adoration and praise knows the pain of of being rejected for “not being enough” – and not just by those who don’t know Him, but by my heart that know His voice and has been healed by His scarred hands.


I’m just giddy!

November 10, 2008

So i met this sheriff’s officer at the movies this weekend and he was so beautiful and smart and interesting and had really great stories about his work like one of his fellow officers was stabbed and one, Wes, was shot and killed and it was really crazy to hear stories about how he runs down the bad guys and the only thing really grody was that his name is Barry which i really don’t like but he looked so cute in his uniform and he’s strong and really sweet but really lethal too which makes him all the more intriguing because it’s like he was born to kill the bad guys but hes really loyal to the good ones and by the end of it all i was giving him lots of kisses because he completely stole my heart oh and he’s from Holland and i liked him so much i offered to shoot pictures of him and his partner chris who says he’s really just barry’s driver because barry really does all the real work and if barry had opposable thumbs he would not need chris.


Dad Says…

November 9, 2008

Gererations from now, anthropologists will conclude that the religious relic most commonly shared by churches of our time was the basketball goal.


Putting the Blues Back in Bluegrass

November 9, 2008

I love bluegrass music. Well, I can’t say I like it as driving music, but I love it enough to go to a festival by myself to hear it live. When I lived in Charleston, Jodi and I would get some people together and hit the bluegrass festival at the Mullett Hall (not kidding) Equestrian Center. We would eat kettle corn, paint pumpkins, and ride horses. We even learned how to rope a cow. It’s all in the wrist.

This weekend was the Bluegrass festival in Greenville. It was bittersweet for me. Sweet because I love a fiddle tearing it down while echoes of Celtic roots blaze through. I’m facinated by the banjo player working his strings with agility, precision and elegance the way a spider fashions her web. The harmonies twanged stories of waiting love and simple living. My fellow revelers were a colidescope of society. The smells of hay and Ralph Lauren, barbeque and red wine mingled together as people tapped their feet in unison. Eventually, the place smelled and felt like the Cracker Barrell, without the biscuits ‘n gravy. *sigh*

(sound of record player scratching off the record) Here comes the bitter part.
The. Venue. Was. Outside.

It was 70 and sunny, and someone thought it would be better to have it inside. My vision of lounging in the park surrounded by the toe tappin’, knee slappin’, chaw spittin’ sounds of Curtis Blackwell and the Dixie Bluegrass band took new form in the way of ushers telling me I couldn’t take my $5 peppermint mocha into the theatre.

But I think the saddest part was being there alone. I missed my girls being there to role their eyes at my insistance on dancing my bluegrass dance. Ask me and I’ll show you one day. I miss my life in Charleston and having a group of friends with whom to share days like today. I miss being in a place where yearly traditions are assumed, not looked back on with “Remember when…” Sure, I’m being mopey. Considering the last two years, I give myself room for that every now and then.

It’s not that Jesus hasn’t been amazing during this time. As I am writing this, a friend here asked me to join her for pizza and a beer. I know I will feel better in about 10 minutes. I can’t afford too long a pity party. Until then, I’ll be thinking about next years festival and hoping that I will be there with friends.