Truckers and Yankees

I meant to post this blog on Easter Sunday, however my computer crashed right before Easter and chose not to resurrect itself.  Now that I have a “new creation” I wanted to post a blog I wrote for Easter.

So on Easter Sunday I managed to spill coffee on an unsuspecting lady’s foot. I had put the almost empty cup on the chair next to me and as I went to reach for something in my bag I hit the cup and every drop remaining flew backwards. To make matters worse as I was turning back to survey the damage the chair I was sitting on scooted back jamming into the coffee drenched foot of the lady behind me. Have I ever mentioned how awesome I am?

So clearly this woman was not from the South. While being a Yankee myself, I have learned to recognize our kind in these situations. As I quietly expressed how sorry I was she completely ignored me as she took out some tissue and dabbed away the coffee. At first I thought she did not want to talk since the Pastor was in the middle of talking about how Jesus rose from the dead in the middle of history vs. the end of time. It was good stuff. I turned my attention to him so I would not distract her from quality teaching and settled to apologize properly during the time our church greets each other by passing the peace.

Well let me tell you our peace talk was a little iffy. As I sincerely apologized, instead of saying, “no problem,” or, “it happens,” or whatever good southerners say… (Bless my heart or something!) She looked at me with no expression saying, “At least it was not hot.” True I could have really maimed you! At that point I decided she was not likely to be a friend and I shared peace with others that I did not spill coffee on.

During the season of lent I tried to write about ways we can be captivated by God’s love and I have talked about the ways we get sidetracked and become captives to anything or anyone but God. In doing so I have come to the conclusion that there are many things in this world that distract me from God’s love. On Easter that “thing” was worry and the need for approval.

While the pastor was preaching about the resurrection and God’s timing I was feeling guilty about spilling coffee. I was brainstorming ways to make this woman my friend, as Kris (our pastor) was talking about Jesus being someone we could touch after He was resurrected. Obviously I heard bits and pieces but anxiety overtook my peace, the fullness of God living in me.

Now I make mistakes all the time so there was no need to get worked up over this one, but for a few moments I did. We are people that can be completely enamored by Jesus one moment, and then be people raging against others on the Atlanta Speedway the next moment. With the same mouth we praise God with we utter curses towards semi-trucks that cut you off and slam on their breaks the next moment. While I’m not trying to justify my cussing I’m just saying it happens.

The point is we are all prone to be distracted from God. This is really normal for most of us. To become people captivated by Him we must learn to invite Him into every part of our being, even the ugly parts that cuss at truck drivers and spill coffee on Yankees. Jesus loves every bit of who we are and waits patiently for us to invite Him in to those spaces. If we allow Him to fill us up, parts of us that were once dead may come alive in ways we never imagined. As we greet each other like we do on Easter saying, “He is Risen!” perhaps we can explore the possibility of Jesus being resurrected in us. Yes He is risen indeed!

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The Lost Art of Becoming One

I was listening to a movie director on NPR the other day talk about the lost art of silent films. He had recently directed some animated films that had scenes where he had to portray characters thoughts and feelings through music and movement. He mentioned that he spent time studying silent films to accomplish this feat. “In silent films the actors practically become one with the music and the environment around them.” Then he stated that actors today don’t really understand how to do that. I started thinking about what he said as I was talking with a friend. The friend started telling me about an idea to meld two types of art together to become one. Truthfully I was not fully grasping the concept but I know whatever this artist comes up with will be cool. It made me wonder if we have lost the art of two or more becoming one? We live in such an individualized culture that promotes self. It is no surprise that divorce rates are high and many are questioning God. In many ways we have become a Nation of many instead of a Nation of one. We are a many that care about our own needs and our own benefits. Once I had a pastor ask me, “When you vote, do you vote based on what is best for you or what you think is best for our nation or community as a whole?” I know the answer at that time in my life was more about me than the rest of our country. It was an interesting idea that led to some serious thinking. More recently I have been noticing the nature of the Holy Trinity. When each member of the Trinity talks they usually refer to another part within the Trinity. The Father says, “This is my Son,” Jesus says, “I will send you a helper,” and the Holy Spirit always points us back to Jesus and the Father.  They are three parts yet one God. In the most beautiful and mysterious way they represent perfect community. In John 17:11 Jesus prays that we will be one with Him as He is one with the Father. Becoming one starts with our relationship with Jesus. By learning from Him we will likely have more success becoming one with our spouses, our individual churches, and the community of believers around us. Let us be a people that revive the lost art of becoming one!

Attracting Stickiness

smoosh cake

Does anyone else out there attract sticky? Seriously, sticky goo everywhere! Today I made a PB&J and J is officially all over my arm. As I investigated further I noticed that J migrated his way into my hair. Give me chocolate please but make sure I don’t mindlessly put it in my pants pocket for later. Hours later I may discover it when I am at a dinner party when I briefly put my hand in my pocket only to withdraw it with melted brown goop all over my hand.  The dinner party was not amused.

While that was one of the more embarrassing moments syrup is my biggest nemesis. That golden brown sticky stuff has it out for me! There is no way to avoid getting that stuff in my hair, on my arms, my clothes, and the most unlikely of places my eyebrows (true story)! Sticky stuff is just attracted to me. So if you are sticky come on over we will be the best of friends!

Life is sticky. Sometimes it is a little stickier for some than others. I have to tell y’all in life and in food I am a sticky mess. No matter what is happening in life good, bad, or in between I manage to get life all over me. I suppose by that I mean a couple of things. The first is that life is generally not clear and orderly. The second thing I mean is life is about rolling up our sleeves and getting a little dirty.

Let’s start with the first one. Life does not usually run how we plan for it. For instance when was the last time you looked at God and said, “See I told you what would happen,” as He sheepishly agrees that you truly are all knowing. Yeah that probably never happens and if you think it happens all the time you might have a small case of Narcissism to deal with. Surely there are other people with syrup in their hair! (Yes I will join a support group laterJ) Truthfully our road map in the stickiness of life is in trusting that God will have a Wet One to clean us off when things get a little crazy (Grandma always had Wet Ones for the stickiness.) Let’s just hope God doesn’t pull the classic mom thing and wipe us off with His Spit (at least it would be Holy Spit!) I digress so let me move on to the second point.

Life is about getting dirty. The best part of a one year olds birthday party is the smoosh cake. Welcome to life kid here’s a whole cake, go to town and get as messy as you want! What if we want to go to town on our lives? What if we were all in; living our life for God? He designed each of us with different purposes and He gave us desire to pursue that calling. Some of us slow down in our pursuit, some screech to a jarring halt, and others are driving 100 mph in a 55 mph zone. Yes, yes, there are limits to how sticky God wants us to get. He is not trying to tar and feather us to death!  Regardless He created us to move and flow. We are more akin to a river than a stagnant pond. We all have our reservations but I am certain we would all benefit from attracting some sticky stuff into our lives.

 

Do You Speak In Red?

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So I was talking to a couple ladies today about how I like to write and speak. I began to tell them that when I speak I’m a lot like Jesus… Immediately some alarms went off in my head to alert me to error of my ways. As I fumbled around trying to not sound completely grandiose one of the ladies said, “So when you speak are you speaking in red letters?” I laughed at her reference to Bibles that highlight Jesus’ words in red. I quickly tried to explain that I liked to use parables/stories to teach about various truths. But what a novel idea she had! I mean seriously what if we could all speak in red?

As our conversation wore on we started talking about who Jesus would be hanging out with in modern America. In my humble opinion I don’t think He would be spending most of His time with the church. As we all agreed on who Jesus might be spending His time with, the more important question came. What would Jesus say to them? That was one of those moments I really wish that I spoke in red!

Because of culture shifts, reading Jesus’ words at face value is not always quite as powerful. When we add context to those letters we start to learn about a man/God that was a bold lover of people. He was not worried about societal norms or acceptance. He was about radically loving people that others refused to show grace to let alone love. If speaking in red means that we love people in innovative ways then sign me up. If red letter Tracy means people will have an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus then I am in. If communication in red leads to a lifetime in the Kingdom for more people than what is stopping us? I can’t say I am there yet but I am all about becoming a person that speaks in red.

Wine, Rest, and God

Being newly self-employed I have not quite gotten the hang of things. I woke up this morning with great intentions to conquer the world but my body had other plans. About midway through collecting tax documents I crashed. There was no energy to give. I decided to take a shower to “wake me up” (about 1pm); I was hoping that would take care of things. Not so much. I laid in bed writing lists of all the people I needed to contact and all the self-starter things I needed to do. I decided I would go work at a local coffee shop to inspire some productivity. As I walked down the stairs to my car my legs began to quiver and protested the direction they were walking. In frustration I went back in the house sat in a huff, and wondered what was wrong with me.

As I thought about my dilemma light dawned. I realized I had been working off on for eight days straight. My body was crying out for rest all day long and it took until 4pm to get the message. In my defeat I decided to rest with a nice glass of wine and a movie. For the first time today my body responded with a resounding, “Yes!”

I think many of us devalue the importance of rest. We have our to-do list along with other daily demands. Like any other superhuman being we nonchalantly say, “I’ve got this.” Little do we realize in the midst of our busyness we have forgotten to live.

Ironically stillness is the very thing that will give us life. I remember one time while I was meditating by a creek I marveled at the way it reflected the trees and the sky. In this moment I heard the Lord’s Spirit whisper, “In stillness you reflect my beauty.” When we are consumed with busyness we are more like a rushing river but as we slow down we can reflect His Glory that resides in us.

Rest is not easy. Slowing down is not easy. Even when my body is not moving, my mind is moving a mile a minute. Yet when I slow down and rest my whole being, I am more available to God and whatever He has for me that day. I think of the friends that called me before my wine and movie rest and then the ones I talked to after. You can guess which friends got the better part of me.

Now I am not telling you to drink wine every time you need rest. What I am saying is it’s important to find ways to be still and to know God is present. In stillness we become more available to the indwelling presence of His Spirit. These are the moments we can find true rest. These are the moments that will be reflected in our relationships with others. In these moments we can lift our glasses and say, “Cheers!”Be Still