Wednesday, March 24, 2010

no way! seriously? what? you're kidding me? really? yipeeeee!

My jaw is still on the floor. I think Jesus is who He says He is. Not just think, I know. I am innately this person with extreme child-like faith. At the same time, I am always a skeptic? But I always check the front porch for packages, even though I never order anything and I expect God to show up, because He always does. It is usually never quite like we think, and sometimes we miss it altogether, but He is constantly speaking and acting on our behalf.

All of this sounds silly, but it is all about desire, big or small and God's faithfulness. As you know by now, I want a MacBook Pro. The Mason jar set aside to collect change and extra bills to eventually amount to $2,000 never contained more than $17. As I talked to God about all my wants and desires and dreams, a MacBook was just a small part of it all. However, the goal of earning enough money to buy one launched me into this current "moonlighting" situation. I am finally at the point, almost, where all bills are paid, and I am about to be making money. I am delighted. I need to practice constraint and set money aside as my ultimate goal is to build up a fund to send me to Africa or wherever He wants me. However, the MacBook is vital to communication, spreading the word, making music and seeing the faces of my nieces and nephews, and yours too. So, despite being selfish and shallow, it is on the list. Also on the list is a Yamaha P85. When I started taking keys lessons with Leslie, she told me this is what I needed to get. They are cheap by good keyboard standards, but still $600. That's a lot of lobster tails and bottles of Cakebread Chardonnay. I spent a good bit of time, pricing them and planning when, where and how I could get my very own P85.
This weekend on my way to Alabama, my friend Jill  and fellow BSSM student and I started talking about music and songs and writing and I told her a little bit about my dreams and how I want to write some things and about the Art. Sound. Outlet. and my taking keys lessons and how I was having so much fun with it all. I told her I was saving up for a P85 and that I was, surprisingly, quite serious about it and enjoying it all so much. (She is a trained Classical pianist). Mike, also a BSSM student, was in the backseat and chimed in and told me he had a Yamaha P85. Then he said, he might sell it. Maybe. He would have to think about it.
Ugh! "Think". How much longer? Think "yes" or think "no". Hurry up. The conversation ended and although anxious to manipulate him to sell it to me, I let it go. :)

I saw him at class last night and guess what? He GAVE IT TO MEEEEEEE!!!! For free. Nada. I get to keep my money! I brought her home last night! Pounded on her until midnight and am still smiling so big.

Yet the message is bigger than a free $600 keyboard. I am a little freaked out. I told God I wanted to make music and he set me up to get instruction from the very best, with Paulette and Molly and Leslie and now he is giving me the tools to do it. Free. Now I feel like I HAVE to do it. The doubt of IF has been removed and all excuses taken away. He is saying, "Here you go. All the tools you need. Now pour it out". I cannot doubt or question Him. I think this is going to be big, no longer contained to my living room. Yet no clue how, when, where or why. Just happy. In awe like most days. In love. Tickled. Lesson tonight. Stoked.

Monday, March 22, 2010

building up bridges

I left Friday after work for a ministry trip with BSSM. We were going to minister to young boys on drugs. As you may recall, I have a messed up sphere for "minister", no sphere for "boys" and have now taken 3 drug tests in the past 5 months and passed them all. But I signed up with anticipation, just knowing this was something I didn't want to miss. "The Bridge" is an adolescent drug treatment facility in Alabama. They operate 14 different facilities throughout the State. This particular facility was for boys ages 13-17, most have been court appointed to the program and some have psychological disorders, as well as substance abuse problems. I arrived Friday night to a cafeteria of boys in khaki pants and big tennis shoes. Dressed in cheap, collared shirts in various colors, tattooed, greasy and abrupt. I instantly asked God, “what do you see”? He said, “The cream of the crop, the very best, a Harvard graduating class”. Not quite what I saw.

That evening our ministry team, divided into teams of two, sat in front of the boys individually, and told them how God saw them. We learned their stories, their backgrounds, their family life. Over and over, we heard stories of neglect and abuse. One boy with a splotchy weak beard and wide brown eyes just stared at me and listened to every word I said. He listened so intently. I had visions of him as a young boy watching his mother, telling her he loved her, that she was beautiful and being her biggest fan. I could tell he was innately an encourager, a teacher’s pet, that adorable little boy, any mother would want to follow her around all day. But his mother needed more than the devotion of a needy kid, found love in “all the wrong places”, and a few years with an abusive step-father, opens the door to escape, wrong friends, cheap highs, police, courtrooms and rehab. He says his real dad is a musician and he wants to be one too, but he’s “not any good”. Story after story, they are all basically the same, “my grandma raised me and my brother, but she died”. “I don’t got no daddy. So I gotta take care of my mama and my two sisters”. He’s 14 and dreams of “working hard” and playing football. “My Granny goes to church sometimes and I go with her. But it’s boring”. Yep, I bet. What can I bring these boys that changes everything? Hope. So I close by eyes and go for it. We call it “pulling out the gold” in people. I show them their value, how God sees them, their potential, their abilities, the little things I see just by looking into their eyes, their desire to simply be loved, their wit and humor, their ingenuity, their kindness, their creativity. All created in God’s image and He is altogether lovely. Their faces change and I see hope in their eyes. We start to ask them about their dreams and they are all glorious amazing dreams. One guy wants to be a heart surgeon. His father and grandfather are surgeons too and he has the SAT scores to get him in medical school. All the other boys listen to him, he is wise beyond his years, a Renaissance boy who you can tell knows a little bit about just about everything. But he’s there- in a plastic chair, and a purple shirt, which tells me he gets out in two weeks. I am a total stranger, I know nothing about him, but all I can think is, “what are YOU doing HERE”? So I tell about my life, my encounters and my complete lack of will power to not do most all things and about a real Savior, who comes along beside me every single day and loves me to pieces and how my heart changes daily as I fall in love and then pleasing Him just gets easy. He hugs me and says, “thank you for coming here”. I meet a boy with light green eyes and white blonde hair. He’s been there 9 days. He has a thick Southern accent. He has 50 more days to go. He hears we are bringing another team in April. He asks me if I am coming too. When I say I had something else to do that weekend, he said, “Like what?” Ugh! “A girls weekend?” It tugged at my heart. What? What could be more important? Ugh! Right then and there I fell in love with greasy boys with bad skin and self-inflicted tattoos. He asked me if I wanted to go shoot hoops and we did. They all called me “ma’am” and I didn’t complain in the least.


We took a group down to a little river behind the property and baptized them, while other boys came to watch. Scott gave his testimony of how he was in a life no different than theirs and you could hear a pin drop. Boys got saved, transformed, loved on. Dreams got awakened, encouraged, breathed upon.


The Bridge boys are rough at first glance, but when you look a little deeper, they shine so incredibly bright they transform you with their beauty.

Photo Courtesy of Angelique Charnock

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Review- Culture of Honor

This book was a Ministry School reading assignment. It begins with a detailed and humorous description of the five-fold ministries within the church. I love teachings on all things. I love being shown the order in things and given descriptions and outlines and having things taught to me in an orderly, concise manner. Danny does this with a very difficult subject to digest, church structure and five-fold ministry. He brings it into focus and brings scripture to present day. I love conversations on the church, where are we going? Why are we not effective? What can we do? What does Jesus say about it? How did we evolve to being just Sunday School and donuts? What is the role of a Pastor? What does a church leadership team talk about when they all go out to lunch after church? How did we develop all these programs? Are we being the church that Christ has called us to be? Are we meeting the needs of others? Danny address a lot of my questions in this book. Yet, it is so much more than a book on church. It is a book about how to live life with others and how we see ourselves. It allowed me to see new layers of the Grace of God and the beauty of His creation, you and me. The book address a large array of subjects that all could be books themselves. One chapter on love completely undid me and made me re-evaluate the way I see others. Another chapter on confrontation gave me some real, practical tools on how to "do" relationships. Each chapter reveals more insight into the Culture of Honor. A culture of valuing others, seeing Christ in others, honoring those around us as God's creations and being full of Christ. This is not an easy thing to do, but it unleashes His presence and the supernatural follows Him. I loved this book. I underlined and took notes. It was that good.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm gonna birth a baby!!!!

I know this one will get your attention. I have been hesitant to write all this. But want to be in the habit of regular posts and I cannot keep a secret. I cannot come here and write and talk about my day and life and all these musings of me, without telling you that I am going to birth a baby!! I think. Maybe. My college roommate Laura, wound up marrying one of those bald guys in camouflage that we went to college with. He was actually in my history class and I got his sarcasm and he got mine. I have written about Laura here before. I love her. Well, poor John is defending our country for a whole year in an undisclosed location. And she is stationed in middle of nowhere Kansas, that doesn't even have a Super Target, with two little precious children to entertain her and one in the womb. She called the other night and began to talk about the deployment situation and began to discuss things that I had already been considering about the delivery and John coming home and I could hear the worry in her voice and the next thing I know she is asking ME to come and help her bring this baby into the WORLD! EEEEK. She said she could not think of anyone else but ME who she would want to coach her through this and help during this time. And I can't think of anyone better either. I didn't tell her about my vomit phobia and fear of blood and hospitals and people in pain. But this is bigger than my little issues, this is a baby and my best friend and she needs me.  We can do this. I can do this. I will just need coffee, a focal point and a People magazine. This is hands down the greatest honor ever. I am at a lost for words. Just giddy with excitement. What an honor to be chosen to cheer her on and love on her and take care of her and wait by her bed in extreme anticipation for this little person to come into the world. I can tidy up the house, do laundry and serve her breakfast in bed. I am going to perfect my French Toast in the coming months, just for her. My heart already breaks a little bit when I think about the plane ride home and leaving my girl and her baby. And little Hailey and Owen. This is going to be a great year. I knew that 2010 was full of good things. I felt the momentum and had unexplainable expectation. I had no idea it would involve me watching a baby come into this world. There is nothing better. They smell so good. They scrunch up their tiny little legs and stretch and purse their lips and I want to hold him so badly. She doesn't know the sex of the baby and is considering not finding out. Which is all the better. All the more excitement. The decision on John coming for the birth has yet to be made. So technically I am Plan B in this situation, but my odds are good. This should all make for a really good story. Me, in Kansas, taking care of a toddler, an 8 year old and their 9-months pregnant mother. Laura already gave me the quick list of activities for which I would be driving carpool. Again, coffee, focal point, and a People magazine. I can do this!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Over the Rhine

Went to their concert last night at Eddie's Attic in Downtown Decatur. I love this group. They are amazing singer/songwriters. Their stuff is raw and inspiring. Her voice is incredible. It is a mix of country and gospel and blues and jazz with olives, shaken not stirred. http://www.overtherhine.com/
They almost make the art of songwriting seem easy as they write our their feelings or their story, grab the words that speak the most, and put them to 4:4 time and a guitar strum. I reckon it is a whole lot harder than that. But they certainly inspire. And I want to try it.

Member Number 1234

I feel like a professional daydreamer. I worked again this weekend and spent 24 hours in this little abyss at the country club. I don't even have a place to write down my genius that I think up as I sit there. I am often with another person, so I am distracted and feel rude if I ignore them and escape into my own world of thoughts and prose and pontification and jotting notes on my order pad. So I am frustrated with this inability to be writing and journaling and playing keys, but I know this is only a season. But here goes my entry for today:

You know how sometimes you spot someone and you immediately think, "I want to know that person" or "That is a quality human being"? You don't know how you know or what it is about them that draws you to them, but they carry something. This weekend I waited on a table where I saw a familiar face. I honestly could not recall his name. I give them all nicknames there anyway. Don't tell them that. But there is Pink Fox Fur Lady, Big Fat Ring on Every Finger Lady, Big Red Hair Ninety Nine Year Old Lady, Drinks Wine with a Straw Lady, and that is all the same person. There is Orville Redenbacher, Botox Gone Bad Lady, Really Old Man Who Eats A Hamburger Every Single Sunday and Chases It With Scotch and Hell He's Lived This Long I Might Just Try That Too Man. There is Could You Be More Pretentious and Where Do They Sell Those Argyle Sweaters You Wear Man. And If Our Lack of Sugar in the Raw Offends You That Badly I Would Hate to See You When Real Tragedy Strikes. Oh and I can't forget Owns a Jet But Steals Dessert Off the Sunday Brunch Bar Man. Love that guy. And Fake Knocker Ladies 1-247. Well, this guy is How Sweet Are You Man. He has this look on his face that says, "I am kind and you can trust me". It is honestly the only time that I really wanted to pull up a chair and join the table. He's about Dad's age. Gentle. Sweet. You can tell he has a daughter. He came in on Saturday and again on Sunday. Both times with his wife and both times, bringing a single woman as a guest. He sat there for an hour or more and listened while his wife visited with the young female and he just smiled. On Sunday, they had clearly just come from church and he was obviously graciously hosting a girl, about my age and taking her out for Brunch. I love anybody that takes along a third wheel and makes them feel loved. I am sure he told his wife, "Honey, let's find a lonely, hungry single girl at the Methodist Church this morning who is probably gonna have a Lean Cuisine if we don't ask her out to eat and see if she is interested in an all you can eat buffet, dessert included".

The minute I approached his table I remembered his familiar kind face and I instantly thought, "I really like this man and I really would like to know more about what he is all about". An hour later, he asked me to lunch. I thought the whole thing was a bit bizarre as it all just sprung out of idle conversation, but we found common ground and evidently he thought I was worth getting to know as well. And I am smiling even now as I recall my previous entry about the ladies down by the tennis courts. I wanted to play too. Real bad. Just one serve. A hard one. Right inside the line. I wanted those ladies to see me. I didn't like being invisible. I didn't like that they flaunted their stupid overpriced sweaters. I can get mine next season at TJ Maxx for half price. So there. So now Member Number 1234 is asking me to lunch! The girl who has to park in the back forty field and walk through the dungeon entrance in the back with all the garbage and soiled linens is going to lunch with one of  "the rich folks". So now I really must quit calling them all that and judging them so. Tsk. Tsk. They now have names and are no longer numbers and they drive cars and they came and picked me up in one.

I am still sitting here thinking about the irony of all that, the fact that he wanted to meet with me, because I had something to offer. He took time to learn about me and my background and discovered that I just might have something that he needs. And of course, I am more than willing to help. And now I get redeemed. Just a tiny bit. It's no Queen Esther or anything, but it is a tiny way of God winking at me and saying, "I see you. You are not invisible at all". He is so good. That is such a God thing. So evident of how He works. Love that Guy. He never ceases to amaze me.

Member Number 1234 and I covered some good ground today. I can help him with his project for certain. I intend to fully educate myself on his non-profit endeavors and will connect him with all resources that I have. In turn, I am just excited to see his kind face at my table in the months ahead. And he will serve as a reminder to "see" others as I want to be seen. Stop for the one. Love the one in front of me. Don't judge, even the dude that steals the bread pudding. God loves him too. What are you doing to me Lord? Whatever it is, make it stick. Amen.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An excerpt from Culture of Honor by Danny Silk

"We as believers living in this wider culture have to be aware of the schemes of the enemy. We have to be aware of how natural it is to be offended, and what offense does to you. What offense does to you is it justifies you withholding your love. I get to withhold my love from you when you have broken the rules, because people who fail are unworthy of love, and they deserve to be punished. In fact, what punishment looks like most often is withholding love. And when I withhold love, anxiety fills the void, and a spirit of fear directs my behavior toward the offender" (p. 93).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

100 dreams: part 1


surf the west coast
publish a book
learn a foreign language
take cooking lessons and practice often
write songs
make music
set foot on every continent
research and eradicate global poverty
get a macbook pro
decorate an old house

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quote

"Instead of wondering where your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don't need to escape from." - Seth Godin.

Dreams

I am a huge dreamer. The whole reason I am on this current journey in life is all because of dreams. Not lofty ones and not wishful ones, but those deep sleep intense kind. I think I have mentioned some here before. Not sure. They are often so intense that I don't want to talk about them. I remember and can even still recall most of them, but try to write them down the next day. I find my bizarre dreams written in notebooks all over the house. Underneath a grocery list I will have a half-asleep scribbled sentence about a dream from the night before. However, I rarely sit out and write out a thorough interpretation. I let these dreams resonate deep in my spirit and don't think much with my head, as much as with my heart, about these dreams. I am very good at not thinking with my head.  I really don't like to hear people tell me their dreams. I always get all confused and just feel that they are too science fiction for me to figure out and I never know what really happened versus what was in the dream, so I usually glaze over when people tell their dreams. But don't glaze over! Listen. So. I had a dream about a car flying in the air and driving toward me. The car came through the air, right up to my car, but landed in front of me and drove away. I pulled over, frantically and asked a group of construction workers what that was all about. I was as panicked in the dream as I would have been in real life if a car had been driving toward me and landed on the stretch of road in front of me. The construction workers laughed and were not at all concerned. One of them looked at me and said, "What you just saw where the Four Feasts of Esther". And I woke up.
The dream impacted me in many ways. I woke up with that phrase in my head...four feasts, fours feasts, four feasts. I went to my desk, pulled out my Bible and read about the four feasts within Esther. I then read about Purim and how it is held now in February among the Jews. I decided I would fast at sundown along with them. I found these beautiful works of art, depicting the final feast.

Purim was held this weekend. The fast was held on Thursday! I thought it would be on Saturday, but Saturday was the Celebration and Friday is the Sabbath so Thursday was the day of fasting. I got the dates all wrong. I totally missed it. I thought it was on Saturday. When I reviewed it Saturday morning, I discovered that the Jewish people were actually have a time of celebration and eating these special cookies called hamentaschen or "Haman's Ears".  How could I fast when they were getting to eat cookies? So I messed that all up.

I shared the dream with Terra who had just finished a 14 week study on the book of Esther and we determined that the dream had to do with favor. Esther was certainly favored and perhaps this meant I was to enter a time of favor in my life. I already feel this to be true. Something resonates within me that says that this will be a year of unusual favor, one of relationships and connections that will lead to more of my dreams coming true. Not sure how I know it, but just feel that this will come to pass this year, and it is better to have faith and dream and expect than to not.

In ministry school they offer a small alternative ministry course in art. I love art. It speaks to me. We were created to create. So i took this course. We had to draw a picture for someone else. The boy beside me drew a picture of a car coming out of a river. He handed it to the girl up front and said, "vehicles represent ministry and yours is coming out of an unusual place". I took a part of this to interpret my own little dream. A car and an unusual place. Ministry? What even is that really? And Yes, this is coming from someone in ministry school. I might just fail. Ministry just conjures up not so good thoughts for me. It seems vague. It makes me think of short sleeved dress shirts and cheap suits. And old vans with carpet on the ceiling. I know, I am nuts. But at least I am no longer in denial over it. I don't even know what the word means and I don't even like the word, so how can I have one? Merriam-Webster defines Ministry as, 4 : a person or thing through which something is accomplished. I will take that definition. All the other definitions had the word minister or religion in it and seem lofty and unattainable to me. However, a "person through which something is accomplished". I can do that.

Now I just have to figure out what, when, where and how. What is it that I want to accomplish? If anything could be done through me, using my brain, hands, feet, charm, discerning palate, what would it be? That is a massive question. It has a massive, life long answer. But I thought I would begin to start to address this and walk it out here, with you.  What can I be used to do, where I can give away to others, have all that I need, and love what I do? Sometimes I feel so far from it, and others times just on the verge of something really, really big.