Here’s Texting at You, Kid.

February 20, 2010

My friend, Jodi, is amazing. She’s beautiful and smart and deep. I am constantly amazed that she hasn’t been snatched up. Any man would be blessed to be in her company. She’s a great girl. Recently, she was set up on a date with a guy by a friend of a friend. In the grand tradition of female conversations, she relayed the evening’s events in enough detail to allow me to enjoy the date vicariously but without over-analyzing every word and head nod. We’re not 29 after all. Things were off to a reasonably encouraging start. During the date, she discovered they share a common hobby – Scrabble. The guy, before he DIDN’T walk her to her car, told her he had a good time. Jodi is not the kind of girl to do a guys work for him, but she tried to give him encouragement to call her again with a well placed, “Lets get together to play Scrabble sometime.” And apparently he agreed because he did invite her to play scrabble. On Facebook.

I have another friend who met a guy and thought he was really great. He thought she was pretty rad too, or so he said. But all he ever did was email and text her, and then wondered by she was confused and didn’t pick up on his interest.

These aren’t bad guys. I think they’re pretty normal. I think these stories are all too common. And that’s where the frustration comes in. Is this the new way men interact with women? Is this replacing the old pick-up-the-phone-and-ask-her-out method that was working so well? Or are guys just hiding behind technology? Is perpetual texting the new way to let a girl down easy? Is this just how it’s done now or should we expect more?

Sorry. that was a lot of questions at once.

Call me high maintenance, but taking a walk and having a conversation seems like a nice way to get to know someone. I get that we’re all busy and I’m not expecting a man to invest the time to sit and create prose that would make Juliet swoon. But it seems that at some point, verbal interaction – inflection, conversational continuity and nuance-is important to growing a relationship.

Guys, be our Rosetta Stone for this. Translate what he’s thinking. We need some help, because the girls I’m talking to, myself included, don’t want to miss out on a great guy because we made the mistake of expecting human communication.

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A post I hope my pastors don’t read. (hey, Art.)

December 5, 2009

Once a week, I meet with a friend to pray. We’ll call her Charlotte. We pray about the things going on in my life, the things NOT going on in my life, and for healing. This week, I went to her with a very restless heart. I’ve felt completely surrounded by darkness lately. I had many encounters with people and ideas that hate the Light. And since I’ve not been spending too much time, alone, with The Light, my soul felt…muddy. That’s the best way to explain it.

Charlotte said she felt we needed to spend some time in confession. Sin definitely muddies the soul. People always say that sin separates us from relationship with Jesus. But I am sure I read that nothing can separate us from Him. But there is undoubtedly a dissonance in my relationship with Jesus when I’m putting other things first. So, confession it is.

I remember Charlie speaking on how we think of sin as breaking a rule, when it’s really breaking a relationship. It’s like confessing sin is telling God that we stole or lied or sped. I think it’s easy to see sin as an event. “Dear Jesus. I’m sorry I robbed the bank. Please forgive me. I’ve learned my lesson and will never rob a bank again. Amen.”

Sitting there in Charlotte’s study, I didn’t have any event I needed to inform God about. The confessions of my heart regard who I am, not what I’ve done. “Dear Jesus. I don’t know why people talk to you like they’re writing you a letter. That being said, I’m selfish and impatient and lazy and short-sided. And I want you on my terms because I don’t know how to relate to you any other way. Forgive me. Amen.”

But in that confession, I haven’t learned my lesson. The girl saying Amen will still be as selfish and impatient as the girl who wishes she could just confess an infraction, learn her lesson and be free from it. But my sin isn’t what I do. It’s who I am. I can acknowledge to Jesus I’m all those wretched things, ask for forgiveness, and the next minute, prove to Him I wasn’t kidding. I’m just as rediculous as I was when I started praying. And my soul doens’t feel less muddy.

If sin really does separate us from Jesus, and who I am is full of the stuff, then how are He and I to get on? Maybe the whole “You better confess your sins or there will be distance between you and Jesus” wasn’t accurate. If sin is a part of who I am, and confessing who I am to Him doesn’t change me, then I’m always in my sin, and, therefore, always separated from Him. Yeah, that doesn’t sound right to me either.

Charlotte said I needed to practice the presence of Christ. Abide in Him and let Him change me. I must admit, that’s one of those things people say, but I don’t know exactly what it means in a practical way. I like projects that have a clear beginning and end, processes where your actions produce a relatively expected result like painting a room or reading a book. But Jesus, and life with Him, has no formula or proccesses I can follow. And so I’m left saying “Jesus, what do I do to get it right?” Oh, I can smell Hell’s smoke all over that statement. But it’s who I am, and what can I do but confess it…..


The point is the process

August 29, 2009

Recently, I visited with a good friend who has had a couple of really hard years. It doesn’t really matter who it was because the same conversation could have been with any one of the many friends I have that are struggling through what seems to be a needlessly long, dark “season,” myself included. I guess Christians call them seasons because, by definition, seasons change. I am assured that these times won’t always be. But I think unless tough times require no more than three months to mature, we need to find a more realistic word for them. Feel free to make suggestions…but I digress.

My friend, we’ll call her Kingsley, said she just wants this time to end. “I’m tired of getting the breath knocked out of me. Why can’t healing be instant? Why can’t Jesus just say “PEACE!” and it be done with? Why does this have to keep going on and on with no end in sight? When do I get to enjoy the good times again?” My heart echoed these groanings back to her. Why can’t our cries of “Enough is enough!” move our Jesus to speak an end to the pain?

Because, it’s not in His nature. And I mean that in the most literal sense. Nothing in the world He created is instant. It’s all a process. The gestation of a seed, the development of a gem stone, the cutting of a canyon – His work is a series of deliberate, calculated steps executed to create a very specific end. How cold. It’s the work of a master artist, a surgeon, a composer – breathtaking artistry in every cloud, leaf, and mountain peak. Why would His work in the hearts of His favored creations be any less intimate? If God took time to carefully design the earthworm, why would He rush through the fashioning of my heart?

This work can’t happen fast because it’s in the process of pain that I learn who He is and who He is making me to be. This is where the ick is pulled out of my soul. It’s in the darkness that the deep healing actually occurs. Ironically, in the same breath I beg God for relief, I curse the pain I go through that’s healing me. I mistake the relief of pain and the return of joy as the cure. But those moments are just the realization of the healing that was accomplished through the struggle.

This is the hope from which gratitude and trust are born. In the hard times, when I beg God to act, I can praise Him knowing that these times bring more Divine activity in my heart than I could ever perceive. And at the end of this season, and there is an end coming, something beautiful will remain.

Endure in gratefulness and trust, sweet friend. He is creating something in you that will take your breath away – and His.


Victory

July 19, 2009

I haven’t written in a really long time. Well, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t written on my blog in a really long time. My journal, however, is filling up quickly. On the suggestion of one of my pastors, I’ve been writing all that I’ve been thinking and learning in the last month. And on the strong suggestion of a few friends, I’ve decided to leave those thoughts largely between me and Jesus. They may be ready for public consumption at some point, but right now, they are private conversations between a girl’s broken heart and her Healer.

But as brutal as the last weeks have been, God has been speaking clearly to me. In my exhaustion, I cry out to Him for peace and rest, He assures me that this season is designed to bring deeper peace and rest. I am already seeing the freedom He has for me as He gently corrects by illuminating the corners of my soul, and asking me to just let go. Apparently there are many corners needing Divine attention.

Basking in the afterglow of one such liberation, I told Lori that I would like to think that I will never face the pattern of sin that landed me in that prison. And it’s not just about me. I have friends that struggle with sins they wish they didn’t face. I know there are times we are freed from slavery, never to face those demons again. We’ve all heard stories of people who, after meeting Jesus never again felt the pull of anger, drug addition or pornography. How we long to be freed from the darkness in our hearts and to never face it again. And the hope we have is that one day we will be free forever. Come soon.

I was telling Lori about my hope that I will never again struggle with this particular bent of my humanity, fully conceding this was rooted more in a consuming aversion to pain than a desire for holiness. I know how quickly I can surrender my freedom for the familiar yoke of slavery. I fear the day I when I realize I’ve walked right back into the prison from which He rescued me. From the work Jesus has done and is doing in her life, she dropped this wisdom. Hardcore.

“Ya know Cheryl, we all want to live in victory. But living in victory doesn’t mean we no longer face the temptation. It just means that we choose God’s way instead. That’s what living in victory really is. And that is ours everyday.”

He is not a victor who never goes to battle.

To the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, be encouraged. He is faithful to continue protecting us and delivering us over and over. Don’t be afraid. The victory has already been won. And He is faithful to grant us victory until that day when the struggle is finally over.


I sat down to write out what God is teaching me, but read this first. Since it says what I’ve been learning, I figured, “why reinvent the wheel, er, blog.

July 19, 2009

Taken from http://summanthetes.wordpress.com

He is amazing, this Jesus. Where he goes, people are amazed. They are amazed at what he says and what he does. His words open the minds and hearts of people to see life and God differently. With his touch, physical and spiritual ailments are ameliorated and peace and blessing and grace flow into broken lives. So, where he goes, people are amazed . . . usually.

Some people don’t like Jesus; some even in the days of his incarnation didn’t like him. It isn’t that they weren’t taken with him, personally; that he wasn’t a compelling individual. They didn’t like him because . . . well . . . because he did life so very differently than they did.

That’s the rub. Jesus rubs me wrong, at times, because he doesn’t do life the way I chose to do life. And when we end up at odds, I’d prefer for him to see things my way . . . even though, in truth, his way of viewing and doing life is the way it should be.

As Jesus continued to care for people and speak to people and meet their needs, some of the religious people of his day decided he needed to be confronted. They questioned him; they sought to prob his motives. They challenged his thinking; they sought to put him on the defensive. But, time and again, Jesus graciously invited their questions and sought to engage them in discussion and dialogue. Even with his opponents, he was gracious. But every once in a while, it seems like Jesus takes a slightly different tack. One afternoon . . .

The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. Sighing deeply in his spirit, he said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Leaving them, he again embarked and went away to the other side. (Mark 8:11-13)

They weren’t merely asking Jesus a question; the word used to describe their approach means they were being argumentative. They were “testing” him; they wanted to subject him to their personal agendas for approval. And Jesus responds to their attempts to test him.

Jesus sighs deeply; this is the only time in the New Testament this particular word appears. It’s a deep, from the bottom of ones soul, kind of sigh. I don’t believe that Jesus is angry or exasperated or peeved; I think it is more the sigh of sadness and sorrow.

You see, Jesus has just, publicly, fed four thousand; everyone knew, even the religious leaders would have at least heard about that “sign,” that miraculous moment. And just after this dispute with the religious leaders, Jesus is going to heal a man of blindness. Clearly, they can’t have missed his countless healings, his gracious works of deliverance and restoration. Sign after sign has already been done; and more will be forthcoming.

Jesus sighs because they refuse to see. And, from what Jesus says to them, we might also conclude that Jesus sighs because of what they are pursuing. He tells them that “no sign” will be given to them. What? What of all the miracles he has already done and all those he is yet to do? Are those not signs? Yes! What does Jesus then mean that no sign will be given to these religious leaders?

Perhaps just this–those who are challenging him are seeking to get him to do a particular sign, the sign or signs they want him to do, when they want him to do it, in the way they pick and choose. They are setting themselves up to evaluate and assess Jesus. They want Jesus to jump through their particular hoop. And that is something Jesus just cannot do.

Although he came as a servant, and although he serves, Jesus doesn’t serve so as to gain approval or jump through the hoops others hold out or to satisfy the whims of self-appointed “approvers” of what is really spiritual. Jesus won’t give them what they want.

It’s easy to conclude that those Pharisees were wicked and hard-hearted, self-seeking pompous trouble-makers, and then conclude that Jesus’ exchange with them here has little to do with me. But that would be misguided. Because all too often, more than I would care to publicly admit, I seek to get Jesus to jump through my hoops, to submit to my tests, to do the things I think he should do so that he can win my stamp of approval. I am much more like these religious people than I would care to admit. And, when I take that approach with Jesus, I can be assured of getting the same result that they did. I will not get what I want. Jesus will not capitulate to my demands, he will not jump through my hoop.

I really need to see that, daily! It is so easy for me to just assume that life should go the way that I think it should; I slip into that kind of perspective much too readily. And, looking at life that way, when Jesus does show up in my life, in my days, I tend to “test” him. I want to find out whether he fits the way I want things to go. I challenge him, insisting that he jump through my hoops, doing what I think he should in my life, before I will readily abandon myself to his care and keeping.

But, I really do like Jesus. I really am impressed with him. And in my better moments I set aside my questions, I abandon my test criteria, and I willingly embrace his way of doing life. That really is better. Although it might seem that I don’t get what I want, in the end I do. I get life with him!


Comment on Fox News in reference to SC Governor’s Confession.

June 24, 2009

I found some dark humor in the fact that the online stream for this press conference was sponsored by Viagra…

(In no way is this situation funny, however, this comment is….)


Two months.

June 6, 2009

It’s been a really long time since I’ve written. As I attempt to convey my thoughts about the last two months, I have that uneasy, overwhelming feeling you get when you run into someone from high school. You know you should say something. But how do you catch someone up after so much time has passed?

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write. I’ve actually written several drafts of a post, but get frustrated because after two hours of trying to organize my thoughts I realize I don’t have a point. Or maybe I can’t find the point. This has turned out to be an unfortunate and greatly unappreciated byproduct of being employed. I don’t have 40 hours a week to write. When a job takes up most of my waking hours, it takes up not only time, but mental energy. By the time I get out of work, hit the gym, get dinner, take care of housework (more on that), It’s so late I can’t seem to put anything interesting down. So how do I catch you up after so much time has passed? There have just been too many thoughts and too much context for those thoughts to get them all down in any meaningful manner. But for the sake of heading off any more “why haven’t you written?”s, I will try.

I have a house now. I have no doubt it was a gift from God. The story of how I came about it is quite extraordinary. The last two years of my life have been chaotic. I’ve had to trust my life was still very much under the control of a loving God, despite not being able to see or feel that reality. More often than not, it was a matter of accepting His love despite my lack of trust. But during the events that transpired to allow me to buy my house, God pulled back the veil and allowed me to see His hands orchestrating my life. That was a sweet gift. It was like being given another deep breath before submerging again below the dark waterline.

No one told me how lonely it would be to buy/own/maintain a house on my own. I have to carry the decisions, the financial burden, and the fixing all by myself. It’s overwhelming to figure out how the organize bills, and when to get the chimney looked at, and how to get the grass cut when I don’t have a mower. And the time and energy, and let’s be honest, tears I’ve wasted on shades of blue paint is embarrassing. I probably get asked once a day if I am enjoying my house. I enjoy the screened in porch during thunderstorms. And I love the sound of rain on the metal awnings over the windows. I really enjoy Sunday evening when all of the week’s preparations are over and I make tea and read. But other than that, it’s a house. It’s not a person. It’s a provision for which I am very grateful, but it doesn’t compel my heart.

I think I have the same sentiments for my job. I really enjoy the people I work with. I have a great time talking with people all over the country. And a paycheck, not to mention having something to do with my time, is pretty nice. But for the life of me, I can’t muster up excitement over video conferencing equipment.

I’m grateful for my house and my job. I know they were given to by God, specifically for me at this time in my life. For this time in my life. During a conversation about home decor, I was advised to relax about decorating because it’s not like I will be there forever. Then it dawned on me. I’ve spent my entire adult life biding my time for the next step. I think about the next living situation or getting a job or, dare I say, a relationship. I live with the mentality of a perpetually transient person. And I don’t think it’s fair to say that I am never happy because I am always waiting for the next thing. In fact, it’s been in the midst of my greatest times of instability and uncertainty that I felt the most content. But now I have a mortgage (gulp) and a job in corporate America (double gulp) and I can’t figure out if the quietness in my heart is contentment or resigned sadness. Most of my time and energy are sucked dry by responsibilities, not by things that make my heart feel alive.

If I was being really honest I would admit that I feel like something has broken inside my heart. Let me help you understand. Last week, I sat on my porch watching a thunderstorm declare the power of the Almighty. I sat there without even a desire to go stand under the rain that was falling in sheets. I felt nothing. Last night, I stood stage center as a Scottish band performed mind-blowing rhythms so primal and fierce that one year ago it made my heart race. I felt nothing. It’s like a part of me has shut down. Can anyone relate to this?

It’s taken me hours to get this simple, rather boring post down. And for the life of me, I can’t think of how to make it remotely meaningful to anyone. I am fairly confident that whatever is wrong will get fixed. And I know that renewed freedom and life will come because Jesus knows what’s going on with my heart. And He knows when and how it needs to be healed. But until then, I won’t waste anyone’s time with my feeble attempts at writing. Hopefully it won’t be another two months.