Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rearview Mirror

I was minding my own business on Sunday morning.  Greeting my parents.  Grabbing a bit of breakfast.  When out of nowhere the space in front of me was occupied.  Standing there was a very smiley woman.  Just behind her was another.  The first looking very pleased and a bit mischievous.  The second looking happy and hopeful.  The first is a normal part of my landscape.  And there was....something....familiar...about the second.
The bits of information my brain needed clinked together and recognition came.  And in the blink of an eye I turned into a giggly squealy mess as I threw my arms around my beloved friend and greeted her with a massive hug.  Being in her presence was just so unexpected and ridiculously joyful. 

It was quite the three-second span if I do say so myself.  I can only imagine all the expressions that must have cycled through my face. 

That's been happening a lot lately.  Spontaneous reunions with beloved people from my past.  I'll be the first to admit that my exisitence is filled with quite the cast of characters.  But I've also gotten used to letting people go.  Realizing that our paths were only meant to cross for a few precious strides.

But time is a funny thing.  Instead of those nostaligic moments staying...well...far in the past.  They've been reaching out to smack me on the head.  (That sounds unpleasant...but it's not.)  All the distance and space just falls to the side, as if it never existed at all.

The best part is, all the things that made that person special come swarming back to the surface of my memory and edify me all over again: the lessons I learned, the example they lived, the adventures we shared, the valleys we survived, the mountains we conquered.  More often than not, I needed the reminder.  Coincidence?  Not a chance.

"Caution:  Objects in mirror are closer than they appear."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Prayer for Today

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts on Tenacity

Whether it's the perverbial bicycle kick that keeps the other team from scoring, or the rebound run that gives you the chance to shake the twine at the other end of the field... never give up.

I've played a lot of soccer in my life.  In highschool I was a defender who sometimes adventured as a left wing.  Beyond I played in the crazy world of indoor soccer in which the roles of defender/midfielder/offender are blurred beyond all belief.  I know that pit-in-the-stomach feeling when you get beat on a run by a striker, or when you see your goalie having a rough moment.  And in a split second, you have a decision.  Let it go and concede, or run. 

It's a moment in the "Write the Future" commercial, but I've also seen it happen in the 2010 tournament.  A player zoned in on the goal and a goalie who's out of the picture for one reason or another.  The striker takes the shot.  And... a moment from his worst nightmares.  His shot is blocked by an amazing bicycle kick thrown by a relentless defender.  It's the kind of moment that's made for TV.  But it only happens because there's just that one guy who refuses to give up.

At the other end of the field, I know the feeling of tentative hope.  You know the star player has things in hand as he rushes to the goal.  But as a supporting wing you just keep running at that back post, because you never know.  At the last moment, there could be a defender in the way, or a shot that goes off the crossbar or off another player. If you're there, you can make a magical moment happen.  As my high school coach used to say, it's the stuff dreams are made of.  But you'd never have the chance if you hadn't run the whole time. 


Note to self:  I know sometimes you feel like that last defender...the tiny little hope that's staring down the eye of the tiger in the things coming at you full blast.  Don't be afraid.  Don't be discouraged.  Don't even worry about the pressure.  Just stay with it.  Don't give in.  Don't give up. 

And I know sometimes you feel like you've made that supporting run a thousand times only to celebrate with the other guy.  But run.  Keep your eye open for those opportunities.  You want to be there when the ball comes your way.  When it does, don't hesitate!  Take the shot!  It will be a moment a long time coming.  Until it does.  Keep making that run.  (And remember to celebrate no matter who took that last shot.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hula Hoops

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  My thirty-something birthday had dawned bright and busy.  Tucked into a pile of bills I found a card.  The message inside wished me a "Hoopy Birthday," and that made me smile, but the picture on the front was what really grabbed my attention.  Taken back in the early 1950s, the photos showed a young woman in Greta Garbo shorts with eight or nine Hula-Hoops swinging madly around her waist.  'How does she do that?' I wanted to know. ...I looked once more at the girl on the front.  There were so many hoops, but she appeared calm.  Her upper body seemed to be perfectly still, her arms outstretched slightly, as the hoops raced around her waist in synchronized chaos.  Her face captured me.  Looking straight into the camera, she smiled peacefully as though she hadn't a care in the world.  Then it dawned on me -- I saw her secret.  'She found a rhythm,' I whispered to myself.  'She established her center, then let everything move around that.'
Condensed from Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver, pp 99-100

Life is filled with Hula-Hoops.  And while I wanted to be encouraged by Joanna's story, it made me a little discouraged instead.  Here is a woman writing about finding time to balance work, marriage, parenting, being a pastor's wife, and probably five other things I'm forgetting (and I'm too lazy to open the book back up and check).

Right now, I feel like I can barely handle my one hoop.  I don't have to worry about anyone else but me.  And yes, I have my roles...but it's just me.  How in the world do I expect to handle more than that?

For example:  It's partially my fault, but I haven't worked out regularly for a while.  I miss it.  My body misses it.  But I feel like every time I start to get my rhythm back, my hips just lose it and the hula hoop falls back down to the floor.  I may try to frantically save it, or stop the embarrassing rattle of a fallen hoop by spreading my legs out as far as they go.  But it's no use.  It's lost. 

And it's just one hoop!  Yeesh.

I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I think what the picture doesn't show is the journey to nine hoops.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The stage is set.  The players present, the instruments tuned.  The lights have been dimmed, and the atmosphere is humming with anticipation.  In the middle of the stage sits a grand piano, just waiting...

A side door opens and out strolls the soloist, with the conductor following just a step behind.  And for those who look close enouh...is that a smile?  Just a tiny one.  But that secret smile turns the conductor's walk into something different.  Not a swagger.  There's no haughiness in it.  But there's a sense that she knows exactly what's about to happen.  And it's gonna be good.

The soloist sits down and fans out the tails of his tux as only a pianist can.  He positions the bench just so.  He briefly moves his hands up and down the line of keys.  And then...it happens.

The soloist and the conductor lean in toward each other, and as a glimmer passes between their eyes they breathe together and launch into the song.

If the audience wasn't riveted before, they're captivated now.

The soloist isn't the first person to play this piece.  It's been done by all kinds of pianists all over the world.  But no one has performed it quite the way he's doing it now.  Because the notes on the page are just a piece of the puzzle.  There's a freedom and joy found beyond the structure.

The soloist is reaching the end of a section of the song.  I can tell because of the way the music is ebbing and flowing.  And just as he's getting to the point where the orchestra will take over the dominant part of the music...aha!  I saw that smirk!  He looked up for the briefest moment to catch the eye of the conductor to make sure they were in sync with each other.  But it wasn't business-like at all.  She grins as if they'd just shared a private joke, even as she turns back to guide the orchestra.  They're having too much fun.  

It's a conspiracy I say!  Between the soloist and the conductor.  He's focused on what he's doing, but he knows he's not alone.  His performance is backed up and augmented by the contributions of all the players who share the stage with him.  And while he's putting his own flair on the notes, those consipiratorial glances keep it all together.

You ready for this next part?  You bet!
I heard that!  Yeah, I know...but it worked out just fine.
Did you hear how I slowed down that one phrase?  I was really feeling it.  I'm right there with you.
You nailed it. That was awesome!  I know, right?!
My cue is... Right...here.  Go!

I don't know if anyone else sees it, but I do.  And I'm taking notes.

Photo credit to colors98 (still away) on Flickr

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I've been doing too many crossword puzzles.  They're driving me to distraction.  I'll hear an interesting or familiar word and try to imagine what its crossword clue might be.  Of course (honest confession is good for the soul), there are words that I randomly ponder anyway.  For example:  paradox.  Do they always come in pairs, or could you just have one dox?  What would that be?  A straightforward phenomenon instead of one that pulls you in opposite directions?

This morning I heard the word "redeemed" as part of our team prayer before service.  And I thought to myself:  hmmm...redeemed...crossword clue -- 'to deem again.'  Because of course, it was deemed in the first place.

I thought about relationships.  I've had to help my friends mourn some broken ones in recent months.  You ever hear the phrase, "I love you, but I don't like you very much right now"?  Some relationships can weather that kind of storm.  Others can't.  Whether friends or lovers or whatever...they chose each other once.  But at that moment, if faced with the same choice, they may not do it again.  Even more heartbreaking is "I don't love you and I don't like you, but I'll stay because I'm trapped" (by commitment, by shared history, by intersecting social circles, by whatever).

I wonder sometimes if I would be chosen again.   

*Warning:  ramble ahead.  It's perfectly acceptable to skip this paragraph* Chosen now.  Now, not when I'm an innocent little girl asking my mom if I would have to ask Jesus into my heart with all the people at church watching.   Not when I'm a middle schooler hungrier for discipleship than anything else I could imagine.  Not when I went out on a limb and went on my first mission trip.  Not when I was learning how to live out this whole Jesus-walk thing in college.  Not when I came home to carry a worship mantle.  Not when I laid that mantle down to pass the worship legacy to those I believed would follow after me....but now.  When I'm a 20-something, who fell into some sort of career and is living on the fringe of so many things.  I wonder if I've made the right choices, and if I've lived up to my potential, and if I'm living a life that leaves others feeling God's love "in my face, my eyes, and my smile."  The person I am has changed so much.  And I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, I'm just noticing that it's a different thing.

All those things flashed through my head in a split second and I asked myself:  "I still don't understand why, but you deemed me once...would you redeem me again? I know you love me, but do you like me right now?  I know you'll never leave me, but do you ever feel trapped?"

And just as quickly, the answer came back loud and clear.  That word "redeemed" transformed into the phrase "I would choose you again." 

I chose you once. 
I gave my son and chose you twice.
And today, just as you are...I would choose you again.

That was exactly what I needed to hear.

"For not, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name.  You are mine."

"I choose you again."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


In Donald Miller's new book, he shares a story about a friend of his who had just become a new father.  This friend said that he had never been more in love with, or amazed by, his wife.  He was particularly in awe at how his wife's body had supported this little life for nine months, and still continued to supply all the sustenance needed by this little human being.

I was suddenly zapped with a Baptist school flashback:  "Milk to Meat" -- the theme of the book of Hebrews.  If I remember correctly (and I'm willing to admit my 7th grade Bible class memories are more than a little fuzzy), I believe this theme is taken from Hebrews 5:12 "You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food."

Aside from the whole digestion thing, I think there's another side to this concept.

Babies are fed directly from their mom.  They don't produce anything.  They don't search for anything.  They have no ownership in the process apart from consuming. 

But then they grow up.  And they learn the mechanics of feeding themselves.  Later, they learn to make their own dietary choices.  They grocery shop.  Some hunt and fish and garden.  Some enjoy raw foods, and become masters of preparing dishes and desserts.

They take ownership of the process.

I think spiritual food is the same way.  Going from milk to meat isn't just about going beyond the basics.  It's about taking ownership of the whole food process.  Even if we've graduated from milk to the chewy stuff, we're still missing something if we're just sitting on a pew or listening to a podcast getting spoon-fed. 

Can you find the meat in the jungle of your life?  That deep thought.  That inspirational moment.  That lesson that you needed to learn.  That affirmation you needed to hear.  It's there.  The good stuff.

Chase it down.  Dig it up.  Hunt for it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


"Staring at the blank page before you...Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find...Drench yourself in words unspoken...Live your life with arms wide open...Today is where your book begins...The rest is still unwritten"

Write the future.  Indeed.

Side note:  I love that word.  Indeed.  Because while intentions and words are powerful, our lives are written by what we do.