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!

Image

Advertisements

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.

 

Casting Our Nets Deeper

In Luke 5:4, 5 Jesus tells Simon to go deeper and let down his nets to fish. I really related to Simon’s response to Jesus in this moment. I am sure in his head he is thinking what’s up with this guy? Doesn’t he know I’m a professional fisherman and I’ve been at it all night? Simon’s response to Jesus is, “We worked hard all night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” Jesus was saying so!

Many times in life we work really hard to do something well, whether it’s related to school, work, or a relationship. We put all our effort in and I am sure most of us have had those experiences where no matter how hard we tried at something we did not get our desired result. Recently I have been trying to start a private practice business. Now I am aware this is not an easy venture, but I have to admit there was a small part of me that believed if I casted out my nets they would be full of fish. I believed if I did everything I was supposed to do the business would take off. It still might, this is a new venture but at the moment things are slow.

God has been using Luke 5 to remind me that what we have and what we receive is not about our efforts. He ultimately is the one in control of all things. I don’t think this means we are to sit idly and wait for Jesus to pour out blessings on us, but there is a humbling reminder of our dependence on Him. In fact Jesus told Simon to “cast his nets in deeper water.”  In other words He was saying dig a little deeper, try again, and let Me show you what I can do. Did He ever!

“And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.” Jesus didn’t just show up with some fish He really showed up. So much that Simon had to ask for help. Does anyone else out there suck at asking for help? I know when I have too much I stretch myself thin and don’t lean into my partners for help. When this happens I start to sink and fall apart.

In just two verses Jesus teaches us about our dependence on Him, the value of obedience, and our need for community to help us. He shows us that even when it seems like there is no hope, He will be holding onto hope for us. In an amazing twist He shows us that when we are blessed with an abundance that is when we need to call on our friends for help and I am guessing to also share in what we have been given. Casting our nets deeper may not always make sense to us but I believe wherever He is calling us we have an amazing opportunity to follow. In following Him Jesus reveals more of Himself to us, which allows us to share more of Him with others. Perhaps this is how we can be “fishers of men.”

Casting Fishing Nets

Girl (hair) on Fire!

In my not too distant past I made a decision to grow out my hair for Locks of Love. Pretty soon (2 years later) my hair was almost down to my belly button and I loved it! However, there were a few drawbacks. Every once in a while I would unintentionally flip my hair in some unsuspecting guys face or I would look down to see my hair swimming in a pool of syrup.  One night I was concocting some sort of culinary masterpiece when I noticed something didn’t smell right, but I could not figure out what it was. Then I noticed smoke rising in front of my face and looked down to see that my hair was on fire. At this point most rational people would have freaked out and done something to extinguish the flame. Yet there I stood fascinated by the smoldering embers and flames flickering in my hair. I even took the time to wonder why the flames were not bigger; perhaps if I used more products the blaze would have engulfed my hair quicker. Eventually the seriousness of the situation clicked and I ran to the sink, turned on the faucet, and flung my flaming locks into the water.  For those of you that might be concerned, my hair was fine. It had a unique look to it but I was still able to donate it shortly after the fire fiasco.

Looking back what strikes me the most is that I never “felt” my hair on fire. Practically that makes sense, since we don’t actually have sensors in our hair, but one would hope that if a part of their body was on fire they would have the ability to “feel it”

Many of us go through life not feeling the parts of us that are on fire. For some reason many of our sensors have been turned off. Possibly by life’s difficult circumstances or out of self-preservation we have taught ourselves to not feel or react. Now most of us don’t have a problem feeling happy or excited, it’s when we start to feel depressed, lonely, angry, and any other uncomfortable emotion you can think of that we shut down.  In some Christian circles well intended folks may even judge you when you are not always happy. As if you were sinning for having a human emotion. As a result we try to hide the emotions that make us and the world around us uncomfortable. What would happen if we started to be transparent and allowed ourselves to really feel?

When I think about God’s desire for me to be free I can’t help but think that He wants to me to be fully me, fully human, and full of emotion. Jesus was in anguish at Gethsemane, He turned over tables at the temple, and he wept at the loss of a dear friend. If Jesus had the courage to feel in public places perhaps He is inviting us to join Him. Now don’t get me wrong I am not encouraging you to tear up your boss’s office in rage, but I am welcoming you explore what it would be like to be fully present with yourself. Allow yourself to be aware of what parts of you are on fire and need attending to. There is a balance between ignoring the existence of the flames and continuing to extinguish the flame in a way that does not solve the real problem.  Those are the things that keep us in captivity.

I know one of my desires in my life is to be authentically me. I believe that when we live fully in the present, uncomfortable emotions and all, the things that have held us captive will start to lose their power. We have an opportunity to be the best part of who we were created to be when we live fully in the present moment. It is similar to the old saying, “Carpe Diem!” or an opportunity to join Alicia Keys in singing, “This Girl is on Fire!”