Monday, January 30, 2006

Weeping Willow

Ok guys, this is gonna be a long one. Sorry. But I'm using it to get things down that I am thinking about, and trying to understand...
So, yesterday was an interesting day..... it was the first Sunday in forever that I actually relaxed and enjoyed myself. And that in itself is odd because of what I did. First of all, let me just say that I didn't blow off any responsibility at my church. They chose to "not use us" this week, so I chose to not go. Uh-Oh...bad attitude showing. I'm just frustrated with the whole thing...
Anyway, that is really beside the point. Yesterday. I got up and went to church with my friend, D. I have been a little resistant to it, because she goes to Willow Creek. And I often let my biases dictate how I feel about Willow. This time I was determined not to let my preconceptions get in my way. So I went with her, and it was the most amazing and relaxing day that I have had in a long time. I know. I thought it was weird too....
Maybe it was because, for one Sunday, I could be anonymous...I don't really know.
I also have to admit it wasn't without emotion. In fact, it was very emotional for me due to some things that have been going on in my life recently.
The service started very low key - the band was playing music - no singing, just music. And then the service started. No singing. That in itself is odd to me, I guess I am more bound by tradition than I know! But it was good. The pastor came out and started right off with a little monologue kinda thing about touch. The series they are doing right now is 24 - a day in the life of Jesus. It is obviously a take off on "24." Kitschy, but it worked pretty well, and remember this is a seeker service. But the topic they zeroed in on was that of touch, and the healing of the leper in Luke 5: 12 - 15. Touch. Such a foreign concept to many people. We are made to connect, to touch, and yet we so often don't, for whatever reason. There were interviews with three very lonely people who longed for compassion and someone to just give them a hug - the son of an elderly father who lost all his friends because of his illness and was very lonely. A student in a new environment who longed for friends, and a woman with breast cancer talking about how people treat her, and the way it makes her feel. I was already beginning to tear up by this point. Hard stuff. Then they did this song about a young girl with cancer, and it was beautiful and so sad, yet so compassionate. Now if you know me, you know I am a very" in control" of my life person, and rarely let anyone see what I am feeling deep inside. But yesterday I had tears running down my face and I just couldn't stop them. D felt so bad. She just kept saying, "I am so sorry, I didn't know." Of course she didn't. And it was ok.
We moved on - thank goodness - to a very thought provoking skit about AIDS and how people react to it. Misconceptions, biases, stereotypes, and now we so often have great compassion for the children in Africa, and yet we judge and shy away from those with aids in our own country. And then this went from there into the sermon, which challenged us concerning who we CHOOSE to take compassion on. Who we choose to love. Who we choose to help, befriend, and live life with. It was quite convicting. And so very true. During the course of this message, Mike Breaux drew in the story of Dr. Paul Brand and the lepers in India - something I have been thinking a lot about lately (remember me talking about this Anne?) Also thoughts from Sue Monk Kidd, John Ortberg, and Philip Yancey. He also talked about how Christ chose the unwanted for his disciples to sit under his teaching. The very ones rejected by other rabbi's as not worthy were the ones he believed in and took into his school or way of thinking. (Hmmm Darla, sound familiar?)
It was just one thing after another yesterday - stuff I have been dealing with, or mulling over for sometime. And I could just sink into my seat and take it all in. Be spoken to, ministered to. I could actually concentrate, listen, and not worry about people knowing me, watching me. I could worship my way. No one cared yesterday who I was - or about my background. It was just God and me - I was so focused. Every week at "home" I'm so on guard. So fearful of being "found out" so to speak. So afraid of criticism, rejection and judgment. Yesterday I could just be me.
And it was also relaxing because I wasn't trying to reconcile sermons and actions on the pastor's part. I wasn't looking for glimmers of hope in the message hoping the pastor is starting to get it. I wasn't ducking dogmatisms, or intimidation. I wasn't being manipulated or coerced. I wasn't being made to feel questions and thinking for myself are bad. And I may not in the long run like a setting like this. All I know is that yesterday I felt relief; I felt relaxed. I felt calm, and joyful. I felt weight lifted off my shoulders; it was like I was able to finally take off a suffocating mask and breathe freely again. And that was incredibly uplifting and liberating. I was always determined not to like Willow. But I did. At least yesterday. I was leery of "big" but I was spoken to, challenged and yet comforted.
On the flip side, I hate small too. Yet Mike's church in Yorkville is appealing in it's simplicity and it's mission. It's sense of community. Willow has the resources to help the hurting, the poor, to help developing countries etc. in an awesome way. Yet Yorkville is a community. Small. Intimately involved, invested in one another, living the messiness of life. I can see myself desiring both. But I can't really do both. I'm confused. I'm not sure which way to go here. Whether to stay where I am, or make a change, and if I do which way to I turn? I need wisdom. I also need to let the guilt go. I need to trust God implicitly to show me the way, and then I need to do what he says. I need to let Him move me and not worry about what other people think. But I'm afraid to burn bridges. And I feel obligation to all those I have had a hand in keeping at my church - now I'm gonna turn tail and run? Maybe it's like living at home all your life, you know nothing else. You need to stretch your wings! I need to find out what else is out there. That doesn't mean I won't return to my church. At all. It just means I need to know that's where I really should be. Am I being pushed to go? I feel I am, yet it in some ways seems very suspect to me. Why would God do this? Maybe because I wouldn't choose to do it on my own, and he wants me to move? It's like I need somebody to give me permission to go.....

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dancing on Daddy's Shoes.....

Life's a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don't worry about what you don't know
Life's a dance you learn as you go

The longer I live the more I believe
You do have to give if you wanna receive
There's a time to listen, a time to talk
And you might have to crawl even after you walk
Had sure things blow up in my face
Seen the longshot, win the race
Been knocked down by the slamming door
Picked myself up and came back for more

Life's a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don't worry about what you don't know
Life's a dance you learn as you go

I heard this song on my iPod yesterday, and it occurred to me that this is really true in life. We don't have life all figured out, and we never will. We don't have all the answers to our faith either, though we diligently seek them. Yet sometimes we get so wrapped up in the seeking we don't live our lives. And somedays it truly does seem that life is "One step forward and two steps back~
This kind of dance can never last."
Life isn't easy. And it doesn't always make sense, that's for sure. I know in my own life there has been a lot more crawling than walking lately, a lot of knocking down. But I'm still picking myself up and going on, whether crawling or walking, in faith, and trust, believing it all fits into the big picture somehow. So, I'm gonna struggle back to my feet, and carry on with the dance. Even if I don't know the steps I can't be afraid to try; I can't just sit around waiting til I can do it perfectly. I'm not in control here. And I know sometimes it seems the older people are, the less likely they are to even understand that life is a dance, cuz they have been around the block and certainly have things all figured out; and wouldn't admit to it even if they didn't. But that is not me. I know I still need to be dancing on Daddy's shoes...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Nothing to say. No remotely interesting thoughts or questions circling in my brain. It's a weird feeling. I'd have difficulty putting two thoughts together even if I had something to say. Apparently worry, stress and frustration are filling all the spots I usually use to think and process new ideas. But I did have something cool happen. After the stressful month I have had, I really wanted to do something I enjoyed and de-stress a bit. When I heard Matt Redmon and Chris Tomlin were to be at Wheaton College, I thought I could probably use a praise/worhip evening. Not to be. The tickets were (and have been) sold out.. I really wanted to go, so that stressed me more. Tried every thing I could to find 2 tickets. Begged, cajoled, twisted arms, no luck. Today my friend Mark emailed me that he was able to get me two tickets to the concert! Woo Hoo! I am so looking forward to an evening of recentering. I'm taking D. with me. After all she's done for me lately she deserves it. Maybe after that the rain will fall, the drought will break and I will be able to uncork my mind and thoughts will be tumbling over themselves trying to get out. A girl can dream....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

If you can't say anything nice...

I started a post and found that all I was doing was whining and complaining. Nothing edifying to say at all... so I'll come back when I have a better attitude and feel a bit more positive about things....
But we are going out tonight (yes, on a weeknight! :D) with friends to see End of the Spear.

Maybe that'll put things in perspective.....

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Best dressed? ...and the winner is....

This is what the sky outside my window looks like this morning. It makes me smile! The sun is bright and sparkles off the limbs of every tree, and everything is fresh and clean and quiet. The trees are dressed in their finest winter attire and here and there a bird calls gently. I know soon I will here the thrum of the neighbor's snowblower and the scrape of many shovels. But for now, in the silence it is peaceful and the presence of God is near. What a wonderful gift on an otherwise routine Saturday morning....

Friday, January 20, 2006

And the beat goes on.....well, sorta

So we had worship team practice last night. Totally bland stuff for Sunday. Not sure what is going on. Evidently we have a couple new people interested in joining us - the new Associate/Youth pastor, and a new church member. Both do a lot of acoustic stuff. (which IS good - that's not the problem.) Neither can practice on Thursday night. And they have a whole different way of doing things. So, ok - we all have to change because of THEM? Frustrating! I guess it makes me wonder why we are so anxious to make changes to "get" people involved and kinda get them to do something we are afraid they may not do if we don't do it their way....instead of saying, this is who we are, would you like to join us? I have seen this philosophy backfire more than once.And it's like our director of music is caving in to them (and the pastor) and letting them begin to call the shots. Fine. Whatever. Maybe that's the answer to my dilemma... Maybe I have to be pushed out to get out. Tho the music director swears we're not being phased out. Then she uses the dreaded words - performance group. Yes, as in, well this group may become more of a performance group. Huh? Ouch...not what I wanna be! Ok, so I gotta start seriously rethinking this whole thing. I guess I'm afraid if I'm not involved here, where will I find a place to be the music I need to be? And I know some of the others feel the same. Usually Thursday night practices rock. We just forget ourselves and have fun and enjoy God, and each other and music. Which is what it's all about right? I'm frustrated here. I just wanna ask God why He could possibly be taking away this very thing that I need....and then I laugh at myself knowing full well that He knows what I need and what I don't need. I just have to have a little more trust. But I will tell you; right now this does seem like the last straw during a very difficult season in my life.....

I Need Three Every Hour

I Need Three Every Hour
Annie S. Hawks, 1872
Robert Lowry, 1872 (Refrain)

I need thee ev’ry hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee, ev’ry hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

I need thee ev’ry hour; stay thou nearby;
temptations lose their pow’r when thou art nigh.
I need thee, O I need thee, ev’ry hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

I need thee ev’ry hour, in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
I need thee, O I need thee, ev’ry hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

I need thee ev’ry hour; teach me thy will,
and thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need thee, O I need thee, ev’ry hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

I need thee ev’ry hour, Most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed, thou blessed Son.
I need thee, O I need thee, ev’ry hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Praise You in this Storm ~ Casting Crowns

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen"
and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God
Who gives and takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who you are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Saturday, January 14, 2006

held hostage aka perception vs. reality

I went to a play with my friend tonight. It never ceases to amaze me, that no matter where I go I seem to find something to take away with me to think about. Tonight was no different. In fact, tonight’s offering was quite profound. At least to me…”the gate to my prison had never been locked.” Interesting in light of the journey I have been on for the last year. And in light of where I still am. It amazes me that I continue to stay in a prison of my own making when it comes to my faith, my beliefs, my convictions. Sure, I have spent the last year asking really hard questions, and examining many issues that in the past I would never have dared to explore. And, in truth, I did find I had been in a prison of my own, or maybe my church’s making. And though it was painful to begin to make changes in my beliefs, I did indeed find the gate open if I was willing to give it a little push. Oh the freedom of asking questions, and allowing myself to wonder! How exponentially bigger God has gotten! How much richer my life has become! And yet, there are still some parts of me that remain very much locked up. I don’t even try the gate, because I am afraid. I want the courage to take the steps I need to take. I want the confidence to boldly march up and rattle the bars. I want to break out and run, and never look back, giddy with freedom and intoxicated with possibilities. And ultimately I want to get closer to and become more like the one who unlocked those gates before I even realized I was held captive. He has a part for me to play in his story, a place to fill in his plan. Until I open those gates I cannot be all that he has planned for me to be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I am the passenger.....

I am not in control of my life. The good or the bad. I try hard to control it, but that is just an illusion. Someone likened it to a toddler sitting in the back seat of a car with his toy steering wheel. He thinks he is driving....but he really has absolutely no control over the direction the car takes, when it stops, swerves or how fast it goes - none of it. The parent who knows the bigger picture is in control. Yeah, so that's God and me. I keep thinking I'm driving, and then I wonder why my life veers off in a direction I didn't want it to. Why I end up in a place where I didn't choose to go. Or why it comes to a screeching halt when I am speeding along smoothly. I need to just take my hands of the wheel. Quit wrestling with Him and let him drive. He knows the directions. He's got my life all mapped out.
Right now I'm on a detour - not of my own choosing. I have to let him drive - He's the only one that knows the way through this. When I go places with my friend, and she drives I am totally relaxed. I never question her decisions, the route she takes, I never second guess anything she does. And if we get lost, I don't panic. I am a totally relaxed, take-it-as-it-comes passenger. So why is it any different with God?
So, this is my next challenge - to learn to be a passenger, and not just a passenger, but a good one. I don't know where I'll end up, but I gotta let God drive.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I woke up this morning, and for the first time in months I felt joyful. There was a song literally playing in my head -
Shout to the Lord, all the earth
Let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the king.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of your name
I sing for joy at the work of your hands
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you

-and I did feel like shouting - or a least singing and praising God. Wow. I have really missed this. That doesn't mean all the difficulties are gone - just that I'm beginning to find my way through them.

Edit: And then, I fell. Hard.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sick and Tired

Right now whatever I've got has certainly got the better of me! After three and a half weeks, and on yet another course of antibiotics I still am sick. And have no energy to write. I do manage usually to check everyones blogs and occassionally leave a comment, but that's about all I can muster right now.
And to top it off I have to go see an orthopaedic doc for my knee. Not what I need right now.
On the bright side, Dana and I went and saw The Producers Saturday night, and laughed ourselves silly. I haven't laughed so much in a long time. If you like musicals, you might wanna check out the movie version of this Mel Brooks musical.
And Dana also got me hooked on 24, so I have been busy watching the first two seasons of that - since I can't do much else right now.
Anyway, that's where I've been. If you think of it I would appreciate your prayers that I would get well soon. Thanks!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Lord of All, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise....

As I was sitting here staring at the computer screen this morning I was thinking back over the last year and it's many challenges. I had to stop and remind myself that the year held many blessing as well. Not always obvious it is easy to overlook the things we take for granted. I think one of my greatest blessings this year has been the new friends God has brought into my life. Whether here in the flesh or those of you I met at the Ooze or blogging, I am so blessed and I thank God for all of you and the part you have played in my crazy evolving life this past year. It has been a year of great change and growth, and for those of you who helped me along the way I can't thank you enough. And now it's the first day of a new year full of possibilities. It will be interesting to see what God has planned for each of those days, and how I will choose to respond. It will be intriguing to see what new challenges, blessings, sorrows, joys, friends and events he will choose for me this year - and how I will grow because of it.
As I have been sitting writing, a song has been running through my head - and since it is a song of praise for the blessings we have been given, I thought I would end this post with the words of a hymn written by Folliot Sandford Pierpoint:

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind's delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.


For the martyrs' crown of light,
For Thy prophets' eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessors' might,
For the lips of infancy.


For Thy virgins' robes of snow,
For Thy maiden mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesu, Victim undefiled.


For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.