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Family Friday: Never Let Go Jack…Icebergs That Can Be Avoided

I have come to depend upon my eyes way too much.

No kidding. Every day I wake up, yawn, stretch, start looking around and constantly believe that what I see is ….well,…..true,…. just because I see it.

Somewhere along the way I fell in with a bad crowd, that mob that cries out silly phrases like “seeing is believing” and “what you see is what you get”. It was so easy to get sucked in, to become sold on the lazy and presumptuous idea that just because I observe a person, place or thing, I understand its meaning.

Yep, no doubt about it, I have Iceberg Eyes.

I’m a conceited captain who, drifting the ocean of my life, peers through the spyglass of my perception at glacial islands that dot the seascape, and just because I see the icy tips, I’m convinced that I see the whole iceberg. I simply disdain/ignore the reality that the major part of each ice-water mountain is covered, hidden by deep waters, un-attainable to my view and comprehension.

And I tend to see my fellow man with those same eyes. Iceberg Eyes.

As the supposed “Captain of my life”, I meander through each day and take a look at the people around me, casually meting out judgments like Zeus tossing lightning bolts from my own personal Olympus.

A see a lady dressed in sweats screams at her kids in the store, pushing a stroller with one hand and a shopping cart with the other.

She is a “shrew”.

A tatted-up kid blaring noise he calls music while filling the gas tank of his 72 Chevy truck.

He is a “punk”.

Two women and a young man, all well dressed, approach my door on a Saturday afternoon in 103 degree heat and I think, “Uh oh, religious fanatics don’t answer the bell”.

But Iceberg Eyes are not exclusive in their power to judge just the negative. Oh no, not by a long shot!

I see a neighbor in his brand new car, shuffling off to Aspen for vacation with his pretty wife and 2 beautiful children and I know that he has it made and is happier than I.

I watch a church leader and know he is always spiritual, a successful businessman and know he is must be capable at everything, or a Brady Bunch family and I know they never have any problems.

Yep, I am a Know It-All! Lord Grand High Poobah of what is right and wrong. I have a Master’s Degree in “How Things Are Supposed To Be”.

Give me a nickel’s worth of information and I will give you a dollar’s worth of advice. Ask me the time, and I’ll tell you how to build a watch.

I’m a mind reader, a director, a judge and a jury. I see all, so I know all.

I have Iceberg Eyes.

In my arrogance, I believe I can understand someone by how they look or what they do, or what they say. But hasn’t science proven that visual proof is the weakest proof of all? Yet one glance and I’ve got the situation labeled, defined and shelved.

Iceberg Eyes are the epitome of sloth.

Thomas Carlyle said, ”Before we censure a man for seeming what he is not, we should be sure we know what he is.”

But admit it…… it’s hard work, very hard work, to try and truly understand someone. For me to understand another person takes aggressive listening, constant deflation of my own ego (ouch!) and time, time, time!

Forget that! So much easier to shoot out a drive by judgment and close the case on another human being.

When I think I know another person based solely upon what I see, I tend to filter out a few small considerations…. Like, say….I don’t know….genetics, culture, personal history, parents, family, friends, health, religion, finances, prejudice, obstacles they have overcome, etc. You know,…… those events and things that truly create who we are, the hidden foundations upon which the edifice of our personality is formed. Things the eye cannot see.

Minor details.

Even the Bible says, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature …( or on his dress, or on his church or on his tattoos or on his hairstyle or on the car he drives, or on his children or the way he talks)….”for the Lord seeth not as a man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”

Let someone, however, try to label or judge me in the slightest and oh how I shake my fist and demand that they take a look at the “whole situation”! That they empathize and understand and are patient with me and give me a break and back-off and let me explain and cut me some slack and walk a mile in my shoes!

Having Iceberg Eyes is akin to looking through the telescope of grace backwards.

All mercy for me – all justice for you.

So, what is the cure? How do I rid myself of this spiritual malady?

I can’t.

At least not by myself, for alone I just don’t have sufficient power.

I’m helpless to make the intrinsic emotional and spiritual re-arrangements necessary to change the way I see life. Just as a physician cannot perform self surgery for his own heart problem, I cannot self- perform the operation essential to healing the eyes of my heart.

I must have help from outside, from something with power greater than me. I need an “inner eye” operation from the Master Surgeon.

My willingness, the humility to see things and people and places differently, is the key to change.

I must let some power beyond me first prescribe new glasses for me and then be willing to wear them.

I must daily ask Him to direct the way I see others.

And change I must!

Seeing a world through the tunnel vision of Iceberg Eyes is to live a life of continual mis-understanding and selfishness.

It means to be in constant hazard of collision with other people. Iceberg Eyes can be dangerous.

Just ask The Titanic.

(Note: This blog was graciously submitted by Kevin Beatty, a friend of a friend with an amazing talent for painting a picture that cuts straight to the heart.  You can follow him on Twitter @TheDadBeatty.  Kevin is passionate about Identity, Family, Addiciton and exposing Prejudice and Judgementalisim.  He is currently touring China with his Family.

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Believers and the Barista Challenge

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2010/06
/six_reasons_why_your_starbucks.php

As is evident in past blog posts, I *Really Enjoy* coffee.  A flavorful brew just makes me happy.  If I’m honest, it is part of my daily routine.  Whether I make it at home or swing into the Starbucks in my building, it is, for the most part, a constant.

The thing is, I don’t just enjoy the drink, but the atmosphere.

The smells, the ambience, the crowd…and the Baristas!

Second to coffee itself, Baristas are the best part of the coffee culture.
(And can I just give a shout out to the crew at the Starbucks on West End across form Centennial Park?) 

Those cats know their stuff…and their customers.  And I don’t just mean their drink of choice.

They have noticed everything, from every hair cut to new glasses to “How was your vacation in Tampa last week?”  They ask questions and *gasp* remember the answer.

When Jeremy commented on my recent hair cut last week, I found myself strangely convicted.

You see, I’ve grown up in church.  I’ve done full time ministry.  I’ve served Jesus my whole life and I don’t think I’ve ever been as consistent at asking, remembering and following up as he is.

And isn’t that what ministry is all about?  Knowing God and knowing people?

I’m always so blessed when my barista friends remember a small detail or comment on something insignificant.  When I was on staff at a large church, I remember I felt so overwhelmed when they began pushing us to “get to know” at least three people every weekend and follow up with them at the next service.  I was so busy, remembering the little minutia was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But you know what?  Jeremy is busy too.  Making coffee, working the register, stocking and cleaning and learning new products; and I guarantee there are more customers coming through his store every day than I interacted with in a Sunday at church.

But he still remembers.  He still asks.  He still cares.

It’s what makes Baristas great.  And it’s what makes going to get coffee, even though it takes more time and costs me more in the long run, worth it.

This got me thinking-church is the same way.

People can have their time with Jesus at home-every day even and they will grow.  But God created us for community.  How great is it we get to have Jesus and interact with people, who despite their busyness, care?  As it trickles down, it just gets better-they start to care and extend it to others around them.

Jesus is the purpose and let’s face it, enough in and of himself.  But the community found in a fellowship of believers, expressing concern and love opens a whole new realm of awesome. 

So, just as Jesus said if the people were silent, the stones would cry out in their place (Luke 19:40), I’m embracing and extending a challenge.

I’m not going to get a Barista love in my place.

It’s not just a command or a commission, but a privilege and an honor.

Let’s give Starbucks a run for their money and know those around us and care enough to follow up.

When is a time that you have been blessed by someone caring enough to know?  How can you extend that to someone this week?

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Toilet Paper and the Denominational Gap

A few years ago, I had a leader pose this question as an ice breaker for our leadership team.  Yeah, I was surprised too.  What’s your name, how old are you and do you fold, crunch or wrap your toilet paper?  I guess that covers just about everything.

Once our surprise and chagrin passed, there was actually dialog.  You got it-we talked about our preferred method of toilet paper etiquette and that progressed into why and sundry other bunny trails.

The other day, thanks to a random flashback, I found myself revisiting that conversation, and, as is all too often the case, the Holy Spirit made a clever warp drive leap to a word picture.

Denominations are like toilet paper etiquette.

Yes, you read that right.  Think about it.  Regardless of the church you attend, the focus is on getting clean and getting prepared to go back out.  Whether you fold, wrap or crunch (although, why anyone feels that is effective…just kidding) your toilet paper, at the end of the gig, the end goal is to get cleaned up and prepared to go back out.  It all comes down to preference.

Most of us have reasoning behind why we attend where we attend or why we affiliate where we affiliate or however you want to say it.  But for the most part, we believe the same things.  Jesus, son of God, born of a virgin, fully man, fully God, died to pay the price for our sin, rose again to finish the work and is the only source of restoration for the relationship of God and man forever more.  That’s the toilet paper.

How that message is presented or recognized-how it functions, etc, really boils down to taste.  The cool thing is-I’ve personally experienced awesome Churches that span the denominational gauntlet and I’ve seen God in those places, regardless of what ever Frist <fill in the blank> Church is displayed on their marquee…if they even have one.

So what if I fold and you roll.  The job is getting done.

Maybe I raise my hands in worship, maybe you reflect quietly.  Maybe you have lights swirling around and maybe I’m content with a clean, calm set.  Maybe you stand and kneel and connect to those who have gone before through prayers and affirmations that have been passed down while I freestyle and paraphrase the psalms.

It’s still worship, either way. 

So, why are we judging each other?  Why are we letting something as little as fold v. crunch separate us?  I mean, you wouldn’t judge your friend because they roll their TP and you don’t, right? (If you would…well, that’s a little sad).  We’ve bought into a lie that says my way or the highway, when I’m pretty sure God is the one who makes the fair or foul call on what is the narrow way and what isn’t.

Now, there is something to be said for the quality of the TP used (we’ve all been in the public restroom that have replaced the roll with the tissue squares that just don’t cut it).  Looking back at the list above, if one of those keys is missing, chances are you’re going to end up in a messy situation.

I’m just saying; let’s do our best not to confuse the aesthetics of a thing with the function of it.

So, if you are a roller, roll on.

If you’re a dancer, dance on.

If you’re a cruncher, crunch on.

If you’re a contemplator, contemplate your little heart out!

And we can all rejoice that we use toilet paper/are in a God glorifying community, as can those around us.

Do you roll, fold or crunch?
Do you have any denominational prejudice? What can we do to break free of being more concerned with a camp line that going after the people who have no camp?
    

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If God Let Me Write My Love Story: Would I Really Write It Differently?

I love a good romantic comedy.  I really do.  Just Like Heaven, Never Been Kissed, Just My Luck (yes, even though it’s Lindsey Lohan), etc.  The list could probably go on for a while.

They all have the same basic premise. 

It goes something like this:  Girl is going after life/goal/trying to find herself.  Via a contrived meet cute, Girl Meets Lead Guy, normally under some unlikely circumstance and even though she is attracted to him, it just doesn’t seem like an option.  Same goes for guy—she’s either out of his league (above or beneath or a ghost) or he’s dealing with some tragedy in his past (which makes him the desired brooding type the audience roots for).

There is a realization by each party that they are smitten.  It looks like the couple will come together…maybe it’s a montage of fun moments together, a vulnerable time of back story or a random championing of one or the other that leads to the mutual “ah-ha” moment.

Then, as it is wont to do, conflict hits and “reality” gives them a wakeup call, which in this case is represented by some nearly insurmountable conflict/misunderstanding that drives the couple apart.

A time of soul searching ensues.  Eventually, they are drawn back together like magnets, realizing that come what may, they can’t let circumstances keep them apart.  A bold, unashamed, come hell or high water type of declaration is made, cue cheesy music and the kiss the audience has waited for…and roll credits.

And we EAT THIS STUFF UP!  Ladies, let’s be honest—these are the stories we like and we dream of living for ourselves.  Whether you relate to Julia Stiles as Kat in ’10 Things I Hate About You’ or you’re more like Kristen Bell as Beth in ‘When In Rome’, we’ve all dreamed a dream in times gone by.  We’ve all wanted to be the heroine that is strong and still swept off her feet.

So, why do we think real life is any different?  When it comes to “Mr. Right”, we really want him to be here right now!

We want that perfect guy to come, announce himself as the perfect guy, propose and be done with it. 

But think about it…if you walked into a movie with that kind of plot, would you like it?  Would you recommend it?  Would you sigh or laugh as you discuss it later?  I highly doubt it.  There’s no adventure, no character development, no investment—and no one wants to pay $10 to watch a movie lacking those key plot elements.  So why would you pay your life for it?

Picture your favorite Rom-Com leading lady.  Do you think she enjoys the fact that the screen writer is writing her a memorable love story when she is standing dejected in the rain or is binging on ice cream on her valentine’s night spent alone?  Probably not.  That’s why we relate to her.

Thing is, a good plot that pulls us all in and plays on our heartstring is not about some chick sitting in her kitchen just waiting for the doorbell to ring.  It’s about a bold woman living life and the hijinks that follow when her movie man is released on the scene.

If we are grateful when the Hollywood writers meet that expectation and show us a love story that makes our hearts flutter, why do we gripe at God when it seems like our romance is in a holding pattern?

Let’s face it.  When we picture the movie of our own dreamed love story-there is waiting, conflict and a joyful realization.   These elements move a story, develop character and provide satisfaction that isn’t realized apart from the plot arc.  Sure, omniscience on the when, where and how might put our little hearts at ease, but where is the story in that?

If I’m being honest, and God were to hand me the pen to write the love story of my dreams…it would still involve the elements I don’t enjoy because it makes the resolution that much sweeter.  So, I think I’ll leave that double edged tool in the hands of the Author of Love and enjoy it as the story unfolds.

 

Ladies-What do you think…if you were to write the synopsis of your dream love story-how would it read?

Guys-What about you-What does a love story that appeals to a man look like?

Anyone have plans for showing love to the masses today?  Share and encourage!

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What is in a Name?

With the start of a New Year, I am back at the keys and picking up a blog that I have been neglectful of for a few months.  It’s not a resolution.  I’m not declaring I will now post 2 times a week, with x amount of guest posts or a play list of topics.  However, I do want to shed light on the purpose behind this blog.

For just about as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with names.  At the age of 16, etymology was an informal hobby and often friends would ask me to investigate the meaning/origin of their name.  One of my favorite road trips included dissecting fellow roadies names: Handsome Little Miracle, Ruler of One Oak Tree, etc.

I feel names are important for two reasons.

1) One, words have power.  If you are constantly expressing negativity, you will be surrounded by it.  If you speak life and love, that’s what you’ll be surrounded by.  Names are what is most often spoken over people.  Those names have meaning.  Take Naomi in the book of Ruth.  After she had endured a famine, the loss of her family and a harsh relocation, she asked people not to call her Naomi, which means ‘beautiful and gentle’.  No, she wanted to be called Mara, because it means ‘bitter’.  Wonder what Naomi was trying to say…<insert slightly sarcastic face>.  Notice though, through the whole book, they continue to call her Naomi and the end of her story was marked with beauty and she became gentle once more.

2) People live up or down to the expectations given to them.  I remember finding out that my name meant sane and intelligent or sanity and intelligence of God/wisdom of God.  Yeah, when I felt like freaking out or was faced with a situation that called for discernment, I remembered that meaning and found myself trying hard to live in a way that ‘deserved’ to carry it.  On a lighter note, I have known a Matthew or two that was quick to remind me that his name meant God’s gift and I had better recognize.

So, if what something is named is a declaration to be spoken and a standard to strive for, I believe a title is a map or teaser for what is presented under it.

FOG for Muses.

FOG is a cheesy little acronym that used to slightly bug me.  My friends would experience something good and say they were in the FOG or Favor of God.  It seemed cliché, and I still maintain that it is.  However, one day (the day I started this blog actually), I had a conversation that basically evaluated how so often, in the moments where you have the least control or the worst ability to see what is coming, God has this tendency to whip in there and save your butt.  It’s those times where it’s hardest to imagine or comprehend what is happening that his favor shines brightest.

Real fog (and those who live in the central valley can back me up) reflects light like crazy.  Inexperienced fog drivers will make the rookie mistake of throwing their high beams on to try and dispel the disorienting haze.  All that does is illuminate the haze so you can see it more clearly, not the road you’re on.  But it brightens your car too.  You can see immediately around you just a little brighter that before.  That’s kind of like the favor of God.  You may not understand.  It may not explain everything, but it makes where you are lighter.  It only comes when you’re surrounded and there is absolutely nothing in your power that has any bearing on it: situation or solution.

Muse.  Simply stated, a muse is something that inspires.  Every individual has the ability to serve as a muse.  I use the word serve, because that is what it takes to inspire in such a way that change is achieved.  It can’t be about the muse, it has to be about what is inside artist or the one in need of inspiration.  Inspiration only comes when a catalyst finds a receptive atmosphere in which to work.

In short, FOG for Muses is a blog committed to the recognition, reciprocation and recounting of those things which have inspired, can inspire and hopefully will inspire those who encounter them to inspire others.

All that to say, I am excited for this year and thankful for those of you who have joined me thus far.  Today is the greatest season to live in, let’s make the most of it.

Lyssah

Just for fun, what does your name mean?

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Much Afraid

There’s a monster under my bed.  Well, not really, but there is a skeleton in my closet, so to speak.

Have you ever been so focused on something that a friends approach, though normal enough, causes you to jump like their life’s purpose is to freak you out?  You gasp and try to calm your pounding heart while they look at you with an expression that question’s your sanity and threatens to commit you all in one?

They had absolutely no intention of frightening you…but you can’t seem to convince your still sputtering heart.

Ironically enough, all too often, this unintended startling sets me a little on edge.  I’m now determined not to be caught off guard or afraid, and as a result, pass the next few minutes on high alert, overly aware of my surroundings and questioning every little sound.  I tell myself it’s vigilance, but in truth, the fear has simply taken a new form.

Metaphors aside (because for anyone who has read this blog previously, you know there is always a set up) I have realized just how much of a root fear has in my life.  In my mind, I often like to consider myself like Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia, ready for adventure, sticking my nose into random wardrobes and boldly facing down whatever obstacle may come my way.

If I’m honest with myself, I’m probably more closely related to Much Afraid in Hind’s Feet on High Places.  An adventure has been presented, but I’m sitting taking tea with my fearing relatives, just about resigned to the idea that Craven Fear will be my future mate.  I feel helpless and surrounded and as I hear the whistle of my Shepherd, I only fall into despair because I can’t work out the guts to run to him.

I never expected to wake up one day with the revelation that I am bound by fear.  But then again, I notice when the small seed that has overtaken the garden of my soul was planted.  Maybe when I was 6 and I told a girl that Jesus was the reason I was always happy and she looked at me with derision a first grader should not be capable of and said “You believe in Jesus…that’s stupid.”  It was most certainly watered by the realization that my first completed book had been lost, never to be recalled.  The loss of 14 year old me’s life work helped it grow.  One thing after another subtly compounded; and what was my response?  Be extra vigilant!

Build the walls, strengthen in the line of defense…or as Ivy’s sister whispered urgently in the Village “Don’t.. .let… them… in.”

Unfortunately, all that really accomplished was shutting myself in, alone, in the dark.  It takes many forms, but often ends with me pulling back or walking away, afraid of what will come if I invest more, love more, try more or am more vulnerable.

Within my walls of self preservation, the fear had found the perfect environment to grow.  My vigilance and determination not to give into fear has trapped me within its sick and twisted world—cut off from the source of light that can dispel the darkness that fear inhabits.

Over the past week or so I’ve been wondering what to do, how to break free of the root that has grown up to become the labyrinth I wander in.  Surprise, surprise, guess who was all too ready to provide the answer?  That’s right, good ol’ Holy Spirit.  In short, if I’ve trapped myself within the walls of my own making and those walls have to be torn down.  The vessel I’ve created to house my fragile heart must be broken so the fear can be drained by perfect love and reformed by the loving hand of my Shepherd.

I may see myself as broken and lame, but once the seed has been planted in my heart and I allow myself to become Acceptance with Joy, the biggest question I will face is which mountain to go leaping upon.

So, I’ll consider this the first chink in the wall…I’m afraid and I don’t want to be any more.  *crack*

 

What do you fear?  Why?     

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Fun Friday: 10 Cool Points to Anyone Who Can Make Sense of This!

Ok, I know it has been a while and  I apologize to the three people who read this 🙂  So, to make up for it, I am now posting the best music video ever…I mean really, if you want a laugh, watch it.  And then, if you want those promised 10 cool points, post in the comments what you think the story line is.

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