Monthly Archives: May 2011

Voice

The individual signature dwelling within each,
not to be duplicated or cheaply imitated. 
Do not confuse the reverberation uttered with the help of vocal cords,
used all too often to speak the discord
found in dissonance birthed by an un-renewed mind;
but rather, recognize the divine resonance
that many times lies unrealized, stifled within.

I hear your voice! 
Stated boldly in words printed, surging in the melody you play, the rhythm echoing still. 
I hear your voice!  In the arms you stretch out and use to embrace,
in the authenticity beaming from the lit countenance held boldly aloft,
yet with no thought of being seen. 
I hear your voice! 
In the shirt you’ve worn more than you’ve washed
and the shoes that have tread the miles and leagues the world over,
everywhere you’ve been.
I hear your voice!
In the lives you’ve raised from but a dream
and the action you’ve taken to make aware the masses of those unseen.
I hear your voice!
In the tears that have been shed in frustration, spurred by injustice that never seems to die. 
I hear your voice!
In joy of the adventures that have been and will be;
in the hope that hinges on what a new day brings.
I hear your voice!
In the dreams dreamed,
the races run
and the paths walked in between.
Don’t think that voice is small or weak or silenced by the mistakes past. 
It can only be made small if kept in a cage. 
It can only be weakened by lack of use
and it can only be silenced by reckless abuse.  It is qualified! 
It is powerful! 
It is the imprint of the resonance that created creativity. 

It’s the echo of the one that spoke life into you and me.

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What do Church and Toilet Seat Covers have in Common?

We use them both to cover our butts!

Growing up in the uber health and germ conscious state that is California, I thought it was a law that bathrooms had to have seat covers.  I mean, God forbid you went into a seedy dive of a gas station that had the key connected to an empty jug (true story) and it didn’t come equipped with those thin paper covers that serve no purpose other than making us feel a smidgen better about the cleanliness of commode we are about to use (side note: don’t ever check the cleaning check sheet on the back of the door unless you are prepared to hold it until you get home…really, you’ll only freak yourself out).  But, pointless as they may be, when I moved to the south, I was shocked and honestly, just this side of appalled to find them MIA.  I work in a nice building in West End and even we don’t have seat covers.  Then one day, it hit me.  Church is like a toilet seat cover.

At least, that’s how we treat it.  When it’s convenient, we use it.  When it’s not, it makes a little uncomfortable at first, but as time goes by, we deal and after a while, apart from a brief memory, we don’t even notice it’s gone.  And really, we only used it to cover our butt, right?  If we sit down and think about it, does Church even really serve a purpose apart from making us feel better about the mess we’re surrounded by or live in for that matter.  Its ok, we’ve got Church, so nothing to bad can get on us…right?  Doesn’t matter that I’m surrounded by filth, because I’ve got this Church I can rely on/rest on/look to keep me clean. 

The sad thing is, Church was never meant to be a seat cover.  It was never meant to be a “make you feel better in the midst of your mess” entity.  Maybe if we think about it, Church is more like a bathroom.  It’s a place to get rid of your mess.  It’s a place to fellowship (come on ladies, half the time we’re in there, we’re talking or catching up).  It’s a place to find comfort and relief from the…burdens you carry.  And if you’ve ever been in a place where you can’t get to one for a while, it can make you very uncomfortable.  But it’s still a place maintained by people and all too often, it get’s left unattended because we’re busy or there are other more important things crying out for our attention and it’s allowed to slip by the wayside.  And as any family can attest, a bathroom can’t just be one person’s job to keep up.  If you use it, do your part and help with the up keep.  There are few things more annoying than cleaning a bathroom and watching people come in and use it and leave paper towels on the counter or drips all over the mirror or heaven forbid they don’t flush.  Yes, your pastor and the church staff set the atmosphere, but we’re all responsible for recognizing community for what it is and doing our part. 

Now, I’m not saying you have to go to church.  Nope.  Just like with a bathroom, you can rough it and let it be just you and a bush or a hole or a tree.  But honestly, that’s really not a good plan for anyone long term.  You can do it, but you run the risk of exposure to the elements, rashes (watch out if you forget tp and have to use a more natural means of cleaning up), and getting caught in a compromised position.  So, you’re right…you don’t have to use a bathroom, but let’s face it, it’s better than the alternative.   

So, let’s stop treating church as a means of covering our butt in the event of life messes/eternity and start recognizing it for the necessity that it is.

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No Wit Today, Just Thankful

Dear God,

Thank you for my mommy and my daddy and my granny and my granddaddy and my brother and for Jesus and my house and for food and for ponies and for rainbows and for butterflies and for grass and for kitties and for candy and for my swimming pool and for crayons and for paper and for and for and for. 

I love you.  Amen

Have you ever had the opportunity to pray with a four year old.  Clear your schedule because it will be a long one.  If they’ve had a good day, chances are they are going to thank God for everything that comes to mind and then probably some twice, just in case they missed them the first time.  It’s adorable, but sometimes, I’ll confess, it’s been a test not to check my watch and want to help out with a pre-imptive “And thanks for everything else, amen”.  I’m not a parent, but I have put a kid or two to bed and I have seen a “who wants to pray for snack moment” end up a prayer that would put any pastor’s long winded petitions to shame.  But as always, time for a check.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about thankfulness.  Many times, I am pretty good a remembering to be thankful for the big things.  Someone gives you a gift, a tragedy is averted, a big prayer is answered, etc.  I know to be thankful for that.  And I don’t have a problem verbalizing that fact, although I am still a little bit of a slacker when it comes to thank you cards…I know, one of my many short comings…sorry Mom.  Recently, I started thinking about other things.  Like the prayer above.  Small every day things without which my life would be much harder, shorter, uneventful or just plain boring.  Those things that when you are small you look at with wonder upon and know that they are from your Daddy in Heaven.  But growing up, I’ve found I’ve lost some of that.  Thankfulness fosters humility and humility allows us access into the presence of God…so, being thankful for small things allows me to experience the thing I am the most grateful for.  So, I decided to offer a shout out today, for the little things that I take for granted, that I am now thankful for.

Note: Order doesn’t not denote priority or level of thankfulness, just as they come to me

  1. Toilets that flush paper.  May not seem like a big deal, but if you’ve traveled in other countries that don’t have this basic luxury, you know it is a much more pleasant experience.
  2. My dog.  She’s a handful, but she adds spice to my life, and has been a great door opener in getting to talk to my neighbors.
  3. That there is a Chipotle, Mellow Mushroom and a Greek restaurant within walking distance from work…really, need I say more.
  4. Asian culture…for the beauty, fashion, great food, fun places to travel and awesome TV!
  5. Starbucks and other awesome café’s that feed the worlds coffee addiction in an ambient atmosphere.
  6. E-mail…as I mentioned, I am not very good at hand written correspondence, so I am thankful for a contraption that allows me to keep in contact with people regardless of this
  7. Words of wisdom offered through blogs that God has used to help shape my life: Sammy, Jordan, Dan, Tony, Michael…thanks.
  8. Air Conditioning.  I mean, if you’ve ever lived in the south during the summer or in Fresno, CA, you know what I mean.
  9. Podcasts.  I’m really grateful for these.  It allows people to get wisdom/information, etc, from places they can’t physically visit or things they may have missed. 
  10. Memories.  I’m really thankful that experiencing something isn’t the end, but that we always have internal snapshots to take back with us.

For the sake of length and not ending up like a 4 year olds prayer (although I can appreciate it a little more now), I’ll keep it to ten today.

What about you?  What are some little things that when you stop and think, you are thankful for?  I encourage you, actually answer this one in the comments.  Seeing what others are thankful for can bolster us in our own, thus fostering humility, and opening greater Presence in our life. 

Lyssah

PS-I know, it got long, sorry.  Also, I need input on something unreleated, although I’ll be thankful for the iput 🙂  I’m planning out a mix for my road trip to St. Louis on the 18th of next month (Wedding time).  What songs are a must for the most awesome road trip mix ever? Share and then once it’s made, I’ll post the list.

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God Made Me This Way…Made You That Way My Butt

“Mommy, the kids at school said my nose is big and laughed at me.”

“Sweety, God made your nose that way, so it must be pretty good.”

Ahh…good job Mom!

“Mom, the boys at school don’t want to go out with me because I’m fat.”

“Honny, God made you just the way you are, and if other people can’t appreciate that, it’s their loss”.

Hummm, a little bit of a stretch, but if it keeps her from having self worth issues, ok.

“Mom, I’m never going to get a promotion.  They told me I’m too outspoken and come across as harsh.”

“Baby, when God made you, he gave you a unique personality.  Just be comfortable with being you and what can anyone else say about it?”

Ok, now that’s just going to far!

How did God made me this way, so it must be ok become the excuse for our lack of discipline?  I’ll give you that children need to understand they are fearfully and wonderfully made, but I have news for those of us adults who treat this phrase as our grown up security blanket…God did NOT make you this way.  You did!  I did!  We did.

It’s like saying that Ford made that beat up, tore up, rusted Ford Mustang Boss 429.  Yes, Ford did make the car.  But I’m like 99% positive it didn’t roll off the assembly line with the bumper hanging on by a bungee cord or its hood looking like Swiss cheese.  Nope, the person responsible for the vehicle after purchase rocked that one. 

The same is true of us.  God had an awesome plan in mind when he knit us together in our mother’s womb.  Plans for a hope and a future.  A masterpiece meant to declare his glory by its mere presence.  But then we get our hands on it and typically, that is where the decline begins.  We sideswipe our life against the “I don’t feel like having a filter right now” wall and then shrug “Well, God made me this way.  If that wasn’t supposed to happen, guess the doors would have been stronger.”  We crash head long into that half gallon of coffee cheesecake ice cream and consol ourselves with “God made me this way, otherwise I would have a faster metabolism”.  We use this excuse like a shot to toss back whenever we are faced with the results of our less than disciplined life style. 

We were made for more, but we use that very thing as a cop-out to stay as we are. 

The good news?  Just like Ford made a cool car that got jacked up, God is awesome at restoring.  A car buff can come along, repair, paint and fix up that Mustang until it is worthy of recognition and makes grown men cry.  And our Dad can do that for us.  But we have to be willing to allow the rust to be scrapped, the dents to be pulled out and that bumper attached in a legitimate way.  We weren’t made to have potential; we were made to be kinetic.  That my friends, is how God made you, and it’s worth the price of discipline. 

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Superman Returns!!!

To be or not to be…that is the question, isn’t it?  This quote goes on to contemplate the nobility of suicide verses the nobility of enduring hardship.  But that is not really what this post is about…not really, but it may tie back in.  Taking destiny in hand can be scary, and many times, can become a burden as we try to carry it alone.  We get excited as we see the outline on the horizon, but are daunted once we have approached it and had a clearer view of what/how big it really is.  We tend to go on and view our life as a dichotomy.  We are human and thus fallible, but we are redeemed and have a purpose to fulfill.  Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I have a hard time reconciling the two. 

Maybe you’ve been there.  Clark Kent sure has (and yes, the Man of Steel is back!  It’s like the return of Superman, only he hasn’t been visiting potential remnants of Krypton, he’s been stuck in my head because of serious writers block).  It seems like your humanity will keep you from your destiny or your destiny will keep you from your humanity.  Take SM for example.  As we briefly discussed before, Clark could go on a date, but as soon as he heard someone was in danger, peace out Lois, insert some lame excuse, good bye human side, hello spandex and heroics.  Or here’s superman, and now he has to choose between someone he loves and the plane full of people plummeting from the sky.  It’s time for personal emotions to be pushed aside for the greater good.  It seems that a great destiny is destined to keep him from being a normal guy.

I’ve felt like this before.  The burden that if I haven’t read 15 chapters in my Bible (at least half has to be in the old testament, just to make sure I’m racking up extra holiness points) and prayed for five hours, I’m not qualified to do what God has called me to do.  Or on the flip side, I feel like being a “leader” or an “influencer” or a “history maker” (insert whatever title works), I can’t go see a movie or hang out with friends or go bowling without passing out some kind of literature being my primary prerogative.  This eventually leads to either legalism or lawlessness.  So, either Clark is around all the time or Kal’El serves his purpose and simply exists. 

So many times, we view our humanity and our supernatural calling as mutually exclusive, expecting all or nothing.  But having a great destiny doesn’t mean you aren’t human.  Take the one guy who probably knows better about destiny that Superman.  Jesus.  Here he is, God incarnate, with the power to raise the dead, heal the sick, walk on water, and heck, even turn water into wine.  Pretty sure he had a few notches up on our Caped Hero.  But he was still human.  Yes, he and his disciples went to a wedding party.  Yes, he cried when he saw his friends mourning.  Yes, he even got in trouble with his parents every now and then.  His brothers argued with him, he was a little sarcastic at times and he even cooked his own meals on occasion.  Being human doesn’t keep you from your destiny.  Many times, it opens doors for it.  Having a great calling doesn’t mean you don’t get to be you.  The secret is not selling out.  One side is going to lead.  Jesus was successful because he did what he saw his father do and was fully committed to his mission.  When push came to shove, his destiny was the compass, not his flesh. 

It’s cool to be you and to enjoy those things that God has given us to enjoy…fellowship, adventure, and good food.  Those things just can’t become the motivating factor.  Temporal human pleasures are not worth the big picture.  So yes, eat, drink (coffee), be merry, but don’t let your flesh become a stumbling block to your spirit.  You have an extraordinary supernatural heritage.  Don’t sell it out for a temporal human experience.  And don’t allow your destiny to make you so spiritually focused that you are no earthly good.

Is there any area that you have tried to use legalism to qualify you? How have you sold your destiny short for momentary gain?  In a fight, who would win-Super Man or Darkwing Duck?

Lyssah

PS-Sorry, the quote didn’t really tie back in…oh well.

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Flesh Fail or Divine Destination?

Have you ever had one of those moments?  You know the ones where it seems like everything is coming together, the planets have aligned, yin and yang and all that stuff and here is a chance like you have never had and may never have again?  (For the record, I use this metaphorically, not as an endorsement for astrology).  You’re there, opportunity is there and if this were a movie, things might even be rolling in slow motion with an awesome music track to emphasize the moment.  You see your chance, you can’t even believe it, you step forward to grab destiny/opportunity/fill in your own word and you….choke.  It was the opportunity to speak to someone, but you froze and they passed by.  It was a chance to help and you hesitated a moment to long and someone else stepped in.  It was moment that you were in your prime in front of all the right people and splat, you crashed and burned.  Can anyone else relate with this sad state of events? 

I’ll be the first to raise my hand.  It happened all too recently.  I won’t bore you with the details, but needless to say, it was one of those “This has the potential to be life changing moments” and I choked.  Fear jumped in and I stood frozen as opportunity knocked, waited at a quiet door and turned away when it wasn’t answered.  Not to mention a friend of mine was able to embrace the moment, as I was busy doing something little and in the scheme of things, pointless, trying to psych myself up for it.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for her, but even more annoyed at myself.

The natural chain of thoughts flew past and I was contemplating my shortcoming, kicking myself for it, re-living the failure and to be honest, wanting nothing more than to cry about it.  Fortunately, I was attempting to stay strong and trusting and did not give into the cries of the flesh, looking for outlet.  If I had, I may have actually missed the greatest opportunity of the night.

Driving home, as I said, I was ripping myself a new one, chastising the fear, lamenting the missed opportunity.  Then, as always, right on cue, enter Holy Spirit. 

“Didn’t you say you trusted me?”  He gently called to my memory the prayer I had prayed during the pre-mentioned psych myself up moment, which ended with ‘come what may, I trust you in this and with it’.

“I do trust you, but I screwed up.  I didn’t take the opportunity because of fear.  I messed up your plan.”

“Hummmm,” the Holy Spirit really likes to build climactic tension with me when he is about to drop something.  “So, you’re saying you trust yourself more than me?”

“No, I’m not say…”

“And actually, you are saying you trust in your shortcomings over my grace.”

“No, that’s not what I me…” realization hit as he concludes with

“Really, because that is what you are saying when you assume you choking can remove you from the plans and purposes of God.”

It was a heavy blow, but it rang so true.  I was elevating my mistake and thinking that it had derailed me, thus making my mistake more powerful than God’s grace.  I gotta say, it shed a much different light on the situation and actually illuminated fail safes that were in place and ways that it was not hopeless, not in the least.

Sure, my fear may have kept me from momentary satisfaction/an opportunity I perceived as the one I should take, but it did not negate God’s grace and plan in the situation.  His grace is sufficient and it’s funny, because he even promised that in my weakness, he is stronger.  He sees the end from the beginning and see’s the workings behind the curtain of this stage.   

So, rather than going all moody and listening to “I will remember you” by Sarah McLaughlin as I try to weep not for the memory of the life I felt I allowed to pass by, I am encouraged and excited because I know he’s not done with me yet. 

Can anyone relate?  Have there been times you have elevated your shortcoming over God’s grace?  How did it turn out?

Lyssah

PS-Sorry, maybe I will remember you wasn’t the best song choice, but the chores was stuck in my head

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Yo’ mama….well, my mama

Today is mothers day….I have a message for everyone today.  My mom is awesome!!!!!

Last week, I asked my mother if she would be willing to do a guest blog for mothers day.  She was, so here it is 🙂 (Authors note: So, just for the record, I didn’t ask her to throw in any accolaids, in fact, I would like to edit some of it out…but you can’t really edit your mom, can you?)

It’s no secret – I adore cooking. I learned to cook by “helping” in my grandmothers’ kitchens, baking cookies with my mother, learning to read cookbooks from about 3rd grade on. Yet, it was never my mother’s dream for me to be a good cook.  But she had dreams for me.

Lyssah can cook.  True story.  However, she doesn’t like to cook, to the degree that I like to cook. She has learned to cook by helping in my kitchen, homeschooling cooking class, and of necessity living on her own.  Yet it was never my dream for her to be a great cook, but I had dreams for her.

God created us to dream and have vision for the future.  I believe that this hope of good things to come is one of the things that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other through every mundane day.  God didn’t stop there! He then gave us a measure of faith, and a promise – a promise that he has good plans for us – to give us a future full of hope.

It is commonplace for a woman, once she learns of the life growing within her, to begin to expand her dreams. She can be caught daydreaming about what her baby will be like – will she have her daddy’s eyes? What will her voice sound like? Will she be tall or short – petite or “big-boned”? But more than that, she begins to dream of all of the good things she wants to do for and give to her child.

A woman wonders what gifts and talents God has planted in her child, and at the same time wonders if she will be up to the task of nurturing those seeds to the point of bearing fruit.  It can seem exciting and simultaneously overwhelming; truly a daunting task.

I can tell you that when I learned that I was to be a mother, I was overjoyed!  As the pregnancy progressed I bounced between moments of elation and “oh-my-Lord-what-have-I-done” like a ping pong ball.   But I never doubted that God had amazing plans for my child.  I knew that if God entrusted me with a child, then I would, like Hannah, dedicate him or her to the Lord. I knew that I could count on God to help me when times were tough or I lacked the wisdom to know what to do as a parent.

Twenty-six years later, I can tell you that God has never disappointed me. My greatest desire for my children was that they would grow to love the Lord more than anything and serve the Lord all the days of their life. Though the end of the story has yet to be written, I can see the foreshadowing. They are well on their way to “all the days of their lives”. Sure mistakes were made, disappointments occurred but overall, God’s grace really was sufficient.

So do I care if Lyssah shares my love of cooking?  No. Do I care if we have similar taste in literature, movies, fashion?  Not really.  Has she and her brother lived up to the dreams I had for them?  In some ways yes – but as a new mother I could not imagine all that God had planned for them… and He is a much better planner than I. He truly has delivered more than I could ask or imagine. My kids may not be perfect but they are everything I dreamed they would be – and more.

What are your dreams for your children or your “someday” children?

What dreams do you think your parents had for you?  Do you think this boosted you toward your destiny or placed unrealistic pressure on you?

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