Posted in Christmas, Epiphany, Faith, Grace, Movies, Resolutions

December 26th anticipating the New Year

(Post was written for a newsletter on December 26th)

The 12 Days of Christmas leading towards Epiphany continue on but already it feels like the season is beginning to pass as the debate begins on when to take down decorations and as new “things” have found their way into our homes.  Questions swirl in the mind both wondering – How are we going to fit all these toys in this house? And thankful – How good does it feel to finally get new kitchen towels after 8 years of marriage?  It feels good by the way.  This season is definitely a time to catch up with friends and family whether through visits, calls, or Christmas cards, but for me it also seems to be a time of reflection, taking stock, or working on things that might have slipped my attention during a busy semester.

I’m sitting here eating a chocolate covered marshmallow Santa as I type this and I’m thinking how ironic it is to talk at all about looking ahead and resolutions and New Year’s as I’m staring down at a bowl of Christmas candy.  So what will your resolutions be this year?  Do you do them?  I had a student a couple years ago that seriously did them and wrote them down and taped them up beside her computer.  Go her!  I’ve thought about it before and I guess have attempted a time or to, but I was much better at keeping “resolutions” while in an accountability group with some peers in college or as a Lenten practice.  In my mind why do we wait til certain times of the year to start making a change in our life?  Take for example me eating this bowl full of candy.  I can tell myself, hey – you better eat it now because come January 1st you’re not going to do this anymore.  Or I can just say, hey – if you eat more than one of those chocolate Santa’s you’re going to have a stomach ache and by the way – why are you always eating so much chocolate?  Maybe you should get more sleep or should do a little exercise.

I know, I know.  Enough with the inner monologue.  The thing about the Christian walk is that we don’t just evaluate and assess our lives once or twice a year.  We’re not just counted as naughty or nice once a year either.  This is a walk, a journey, and something that often takes some perseverance, faith and a whole lot of grace.   Sometimes we’re discouraged.  Sometimes we’ve had enough.  Sometimes it’s been a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, a bad year.  Sometimes we don’t know how we’ll pick up the pieces or where to begin.  But begin we will with the love and grace of God that is always sufficient if we but ask.

 I am reminded of the movie, The Sound of Music, another holiday favorite that I love.  When Maria comes back to the abbey not quite knowing what to do, and Mother Superior says, “Our abbey is not to be used as an escape.  What is it you can’t face?  You must find out.  You must go back.  Maria, these walls were not built to shut out problems.  You have to face them.  You have to live the life you were born to live.”  With the help of God we can face both the small and the most humungous of bumps in the road.  In this season of ponderings may we take a deep, hard look at the lives we are living and may we live them more abundantly and more hopefully in the love of Christ.  May we see the challenges of our days as opportunities to grow and learn.  May we know that making a change – creating a new habit or letting go of one – is not something that’s once a year, but we can keep climbing that mountain with a Savior that walks with us every day.  Listen to wonderful Mother Superior.  Listen to the Spirit of God alive and speaking to your heart.

“Climb Every Mountain”

Climb every mountain,

Search high and low,

Follow every byway,

Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need

All the love you can give,

Every day of your life

For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

Till you find your dream

Posted in Books, Culture, Faith, Movies, Sermons

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I have been totally slacking on the blog but things have been busy, busy!  This summer I started reading Sophie Kinsella/Madeline Wickham books.  I admit that I’m a little of a book fanatic but it takes me a while to find an author I like and then I’m all in.  I read her Twenties Girl in an airport in May and have loved her books ever since.  They really should make a movie on Can You Keep a Secret?  Hilarious and priceless.

Anyway, even though I love her writing, I have been hesitant to begin the Shopaholic series.  Not because it doesn’t look cute and yes, I know about the movie, but I’ve never seen it.  I just saw that there was a whole series – Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Shopaholic and Sister, Shopaholic and Baby…wowzers.  As a sometimes, if it’s the beginning of the month and there’s still a little bit of money in the account, shopaholic – I knew that starting to read these would just feed that shopaholic tendency and I was correct.  When I first preached a sermon about this two weeks ago I had only gotten the first book and read it but now I’m all the way to Shopaholic and Baby and I don’t even entirely know how I got there but they were just so good!

The lectionary has been following 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy a good bit over the past couple of weeks and I’ve enjoyed looking at those texts and pondering them.  Paul’s instructions to Timothy are both practical and full of love.  He’s not just mentoring Timothy in a hands-off let me tell you what to do way, he’s actually being honest and truthful about highs and lows and good and bad with him.

In 1 Timothy 6:6-19, the thing that stood out the most to me was this talk of contentment.  Contentment is one of those things that people long for and try all sorts of things to attain, but it often can feel a little elusive as well.  There’s just something about that Shopaholic tendency or that joy from a purchase especially if it’s on clearance or buy 1 get 1 free – something about that feeling of satisfaction that gives us that momentary satisfaction of feeling like heck yeah, I just got something really fabulous and now I feel good about myself – where I am and who I am.  And it’s something that we sadly can pass down.  Enoch, our 3 year old, now can ask for Target by name – and that is a sad, sad thing.  I don’t want him to just be looking for the next shiny toy.

There’s so much in our society that supports this thinking – from The Secret craze – the law of attraction that we can will things into being if we believe them and call them towards us.  Or even things in a Christian context – like the Prayer of Jabez craze less than a decade ago.  There’s something about these mindsets if you just believe enough, if you just do blank enough then x, y, z will happen and your life will be perfect. 

But it just doesn’t seem to always work like that.  Or maybe it just does for Oprah.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you will something to be so, or how much you want something – it ain’t happening.  Stuff is not permanent.  These things that we’re grasping for are not permanent.  Even the very cute purple pocketbook that I got on sale at Target and am holding out to use because it is adorable – is not permanent.  It will tear up and be filled up with junk and worn out just like all of my other pocketbooks.

Paul is asking Timothy to think about wants versus needs.  We all know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – like basic human needs such as shelter, food, etc. to more advanced emotional needs like self-esteem, respect and creativity.  One of the students last week was writing a paper for her psychology class and it was all about what shapes one’s personality.  In many ways she was asking – where do we find contentment?  Who tells us who we are?  Who do we listen to?  Whether it’s parents or friends or peer group or media or whatever – who tells us we’re okay.

I had another student yesterday email me questions for one of her classes about style and appearance.  I admit this took me by surprise.  The questions asked about daily beauty routines, how long these things took, and what products did you use.  It also asked about how celebrities or media affected these decisions.  I admit, when I thought about it – there are some days I am lucky if my hair gets brushed and there’s no make up and just trying to survive and get the kids dressed.  But then there are other days – board meeting days, days when I know I’ll see people other than my loving students and on those days I do try to take a shower, pick out my clothes well, and put on some make up.  Her last question struck me though – what is your self-esteem without make up and style and what is your self-esteem with it?

What determines how we feel about ourselves?  What determines if we are satisfied with our lives?  Where do we get this elusive contentment?  For the shopaholics out there, you can’t buy contentment in any store.  Sadly you can’t even order it on Amazon.  It’s not that it’s sold out, it’s just not for sale.

Billy Graham asked people to take out their checkbooks and then said, “A checkbook is a theological document; it will tell you who and what you worship.”  That is scary.  Or maybe it’s not for some of you.  There aren’t many things that we buy that we don’t need or is not a basic utility or food but yes, there is an iced white chocolate from The Coffee Shack on my desk right now.  It’s delicious.  It’s supporting a local business.  It probably has calories out the wazoo but who cares – there’s caffeine.  And I need this drink today.  We’re going to a protest later on behalf of some amazing women in Nicaragua – and I need the energy.  I need this sugary goodness.  I need this instantaneous gratification that’s only going to last me a few more sips.  That’s throwing around a lot of “needs.”

What is the deal with that?  How do we trick ourselves into thinking/manipulating/justifying/rationalizing these things in our minds?  Paul is not giving Timothy a recommendation for happiness here, but he’s talking about being content.  Having “enough.”  What does enough look like to you?  If you were like the guy/girl in the movie Leap Year and the fire alarm went off – what would you grab?  What really does make you happy – not just for a moment but forever?  What makes you even more than just happy – but content?  Family?  Friends?  A job you love?  Volunteering where you feel alive?  What is it?  I hope that Enoch knows and that his Mommy knows that life is much more than the next purchase and that spending an afternoon playing fireman or school bus or hiding in the tent or going to the “choo choo” park or “big” park is priceless.

How do we get past the hugely loud message being played back to us from all sides that we have to have ______ to be satisfied?  That we have to have ______ for a meaningful existence?

Our first commandment is to love God.  And as Christians we’re not just giving and sharing and opening up to our neighbors what we have just because they’re our neighbors and that’s what we’re called to do – we’re sharing from our abundance because we love God.  We love the One who calls us each by name and says that God’s love is more than enough for each of us.

Do you spend each week waiting for the carrot at the end?  Do you say to yourself well when _____ happens, then I’ll be able to do _______.  If I could make a little more money than I could give to x, y, z.  When I pay off such and such, then I’ll be able to….  When I’m not so busy, then I’ll sit down and ask myself – what in my life really brings about this joy that can’t be taken away by chance or circumstance? 

Sometimes we lose our way.  Sometimes we lose ourselves.  Sometimes we lose sight of what we have and the blessings that have been bestowed upon us in the abundant life that Christ gives each of us.  Jim Elliot wrote in his journal, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

God is faithful to us – even when we crash.  Even when our priorities are topsy turvy and our checkbook is blaringly obvious upside down.  Who’s approval are we seeking?  Friends, co-workers, parents, supervisors, “those” people – or are we striving after the Gospel of our Lord who spurs us forth giving us all the reassurance in the world that we are children of God and that is more than enough?  We have to be those supports for one another.  One thing I’ve learned even from reading this crazy Shopaholic series – sometimes you have to say a strong but loving word to someone.  We need those people that can call us out – in love and grace – but calling out nonetheless.  We need people to say – hey – what are you doing?  What really matters?

May we continue the journey of discovering who we are in God’s eyes and being sure in that.  May we also pick up and love our fellow journeyers as we all walk this road together, remembering that we’re not just called to the lost and the poor around the world, but to those in our communities right beside us who are struggling and looking for answers.  May God be faithful in our searches that gives us satisfaction and contentment much more than any fancy pocketbook, awesome car, or even the perfect ______.

Here’s Toby Mac’s “Get Back Up.”

God loves us no matter what and gives us the Word and direction we need…..even when we don’t know where to turn and we’re wondering what in the heck happened.

Here’s Kerrie Roberts, “No Matter What”….

Posted in Faith, God's Providence, Grace, Guidance, Healing, Health, Justice, Movies, Prayers, pride, Sermons, Trust

Prayer

This Sunday’s Gospel lectionary text is Luke 11:1-13.  It begins with the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray and Jesus teaching them Lord’s prayer followed by him talking about seeking and finding and words that I say in just about every other sermon or talk with students at one time or another.  Very familiar words… “Ask, and it will be given you; search and you fill find; knock, and hte door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Then it goes on talking about eggs and scorpions.  It’s a rich text.  And when I picked it at the beginning of the week when I working on the bulletin, I really wanted to work on it and see where the Spirit led because while saying the Lord’s prayer in the midst of The Journey service last week, I actually stumbled over some of the words – can’t even remember which ones now – because I was thinking about what they actually meant and what we’re actually saying when we say that familiar and yet powerful prayer.

I admit that as often is the case when I pick a text as time gets closer to Sunday I start to second guess and think that I might should have gone with one of the others.  It is always awe-inspiring for me to think about all of the little and amazing things that God brings to us when we’re wrestling with something.  This week it has been prayer for me.  Part of me does regret picking that text because there’s a part of me that’s not ready to think seriously and openly about this text after the events of the past couple months.  It’s still a little too personal to put into a sermon or to reflect on.

Mike brought in the poster board card that the folks at SC’s Annual Conference made me while I was having surgery.  Who knows how it ended up in my trunk and I have no clue who brought it from Florence but it ended up in Wesley on Thursday morning as Mike was cleaning out my trunk.  I can’t say how much those prayers meant to me and continue to mean to me.  I can’t begin to express how much I want to keep asking and knocking on that door in prayer in hope.

I’ve been reading various women’s books over all this time out of sheer boredom from doctor’s office visits and when the kids are watching that episode of Caillou or Dora or Phinneas and Ferb for the millionth time.  (Sidenote:  most women’s books are so depressing and sad – does no one believe in happy endings anymore besides the Christian fiction authors???)  One of my dear students here let me borrow The Time Traveler’s Wife before she left for the summer.   Beautiful story.  Deep love.  I will never watch the movie because it’s more sad than I want, but beautiful.  Yet again I do think God brings random things into our lives that wake us up to a truth we need to see or things we need to realize or just that guidance that we can’t always even understand.  In reading the ending of that book – I found myself realizing that even though I have prayed and felt uplifted throughout this journey and I have appreciated the prayers of so many, I’ve never actually cried out specifically for God to heal me. 

It kind of freaks me out even to type it.  I know that’s weird.  Especially for a pastor that does believe that prayer can do miraculous things.  And someone that does believe in the “Heal me and I will be healed.  Save me and I will be saved.  For you alone are God.”  So in thinking about the sermon that I have no idea what I’m going to really say tomorrow – what makes us afraid to ask or knock or seek?  What holds us back?  What stands in our way?

Crying out to God that night, trying to figure it out – I don’t know.  It’s a lot of things.  Fear that it won’t happen.  Fear of what healing really means and for how long.  Fear that even if everything is healed, I won’t know how to go back to life as usual.  Is it pride?  Do I pray for others but not want to pray for myself?  Why is that?  I’m no more resilient or together and certainly not any more godly.  Is it that I see people all around every day and I hear stories of people that need healing so much more and I wonder and rail that I’m sure some of them ask, seek, and knock and where are their good gifts and not scorpions?  I just saw a blip of Ann Curry’s special on the Today Show with the family of 10 living on $500 a month and I’m like why am I even taking the time to write a blog or eating lifesaver gummies when there are people out there that are struggling and hurting needing “good gifts” as much as the rest of us.

Do we think we’re not good enough to ask?  Or not deserving enough?  Or needy enough?  Or nice enough?  What is it that holds us back from prayer?  What makes it hard to ask and give these things over?  Control?  Pride?  Fear?  Anger at what we’ve seen as unanswered prayer?

In watching Anne of Green Gables on PBS for a couple weekends I noticed how Marilla first taught Anne how to pray and she explained to her in a very simple manner – that she should thank God for God’s blessings and then ask God if there’s something she’d like.  Hilarious scene.  Sadly youtube does not have it.  I think about the whole ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  I think of all the prayer circles and prayer ministries and prayer shawls (and Windsor UMC I love the one y’all made me!  it is in my office and i’ve already had a couple students wrap in it and i hope feel your prayers!).  I read this passage and think very layered/complicated back and forth theology blah, blah, blah statements but you know it’s really pretty simple.  Ask – it will be given, search – find, knock – door open.  It’s not complicated.  And yet somehow we make it so in our minds.  Or maybe that’s just mine.

I don’t have all the answers and I feel sure that I won’t have come up with them by tomorrow morning at 11 am, but I do know that God is a God of love and that God does love us as God’s very own.  So those scorpions or the AIDS or the heart attacks or the car accidents or the cancers or the abuse or the hurricanes are not from God.  They can be used by God for our good but our God knows us, loves us and seeks the best for us.

Maybe that’s what it boils down to…the trust and the faith to believe not only that God answers prayer and that God hears us, but that God is love and is good and is not going to bait and switch us and give us a mouse trap to stick our fingers in instead of an awesome gigantic lollipop.  It is with confidence and boldness that we pray knowing that we are heard and held by the great God of the universe.  We can cry out when we’re starting a new job, or a new school, or a new adventure and we will be answered.  We can continue to ask the hard questions and wrestle and just not understand and as we seek, surely we will find…Can’t wait for each of us to knock on that door and to see the warm light and smile when the door is opened.

Found this from Celine Dion and Josh Groban on youtube.  I know a little cheesey but I do think there’s a love and emotion in there that is present in these passages about prayer…that love of parent and child – that guidance and leading.

I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go.
And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way
Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe

The light you have
I pray we’ll find your light
will be in the heart
and hold it in our hearts.
to remember us that
When stars go out each night,
you are eternal star
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
quanta fede c’è
when shadows fill our day

How much faith there’s
Let this be our prayer
in my prayer
when shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

We dream a world without violence
a world of justice and faith.
Everyone gives the hand to his neighbours
Symbol of peace, of fraternity
We ask that life be kind
and watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
another soul to love

The force his gives us
We ask that life be kind
is wish that
and watch us from above
everyone finds love
We hope each soul will find
around and inside
another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer, just like every child

Need to find a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe
Need to find a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

It’s the faith
you light in us
I feel it will save us

Posted in Culture, Faith, God's Providence, Grace, Movies

Feed the Birds

The kids were watching Mary Poppins the other day and I was struck by the story of the lady feeding the birds.  Mary Poppins is talking the kids into being excited about going with their father to work the next day and she starts telling them about the lady as she holds a beautiful snow globe of it.

In talking about the father in the story and of course of you know the movie he’s kind of a tough rules and order-oriented dad, the kids ask why people don’t stop and give lady money or why they don’t see her altogether.  Mary Poppins answers, “Some people don’t see past the end of their nose.”

Some of us don’t see past the end of our noses.  If we’re too busy in the goings on of life it’s easy not to see the world around us or the needs around us.  I read an article (http://homelessness.change.org/blog/view/please_dont_feed_our_homeless_many_cities_say)You give and last night about some cities outlawing or making it really difficult for people to feed the homeless in their cities.  Wow.  I’m not even going to get into the statistics of how many of our homeless are veterans or are mentally ill or the many, many folks who have found themselves homeless for the first time in the past couple years in our economy.

But a challenge to each of us is to see past the end of our noses and our own little worlds and to see what we can do.  It’s easy to see issues like hunger or homelessness or human trafficking or immigration or education reform as these big, huge things that we can’t make a difference in.  But all those commercials that say that all of us together, all of our little drops in the bucket CAN make a difference – that’s not just Hollywood or a pipe dream.  That’s real.  What can we do today?  What are you passionate about?  What has God given you a vision for?

Trying to see past the end of my nose…

“Feed the Birds” Lyrics

Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s
The little old bird woman comes
In her own special way to the people she call,
“Come, buy my bags full of crumbs;
Come feed the little birds,
Show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do
Their young ones are hungry
Their nests are so bare
All it takes is tuppence from you
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag
Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries
While overhead, her birds fill the skies

All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down as she sells her wares
Although you can’t see it,
You know they are smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares

Though her words are simple and few
Listen, listen, she’s calling to you
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag”

Posted in Culture, Faith, Family, Health, Methodism, Movies, Tumor

Healing

I’m sorry I’ve been slack in my blogging duties.  Things have been busy!  We still haven’t heard from the pathology report yet so no news there, but I have had a great couple days with Enoch and Evy!  We went to the pool and played and I slept in my own bed and woke up with the kids and we played some more so that was wonderful!  It was good to open mail, pay some bills, and do regular stuff around the house and get to see the kiddos.  It amazes me how quickly they grow and change.

A friend of mine posted earlier on facebook that she’s preaching about healing tomorrow and I was catching up reading Advocates and I noticed an article that talked about the healing service in the UM Book of Worship being a meaningful service for a lot of folks and one of our churches providing these services once a month for people.  I’ve been thinking about it all day.  Healing.

Tonight Mike and I went to see Iron Man II and even in that there was the need for healing.  Sure Mr. Stark is a smart mouth (and there were a lot of funny parts in there), but the a-ha moment of the movie is him seeing a video of his inventor/genius dad telling him that he was his greatest invention, blah, blah, blah…and then him figuring out the puzzle of how to beat the bad guys, etc.  He needed to hear that he mattered to his dad and that he loved him.  Just like Tony Stark, we each have past “stuff” that needs healing.  We each carry baggage around with us – some of us have painted smiley faces on it or it’s the LV designer line or there are a gazillion different pieces of all shapes and sizes with pink tags stuck to them.  Whatever they look like – they’re our junk that goes with us.  For some of us it’s the Tony Stark need to feel validated or loved or okay or good enough or like we make the cut.  For some of us it’s letting go of hurt or anger or grief or frustration or just drama.  For some of us it’s the self-sabotage and nagging that we do to ourselves.  For some of us it’s pride and self-centeredness. (maybe that’s just those of us that are self-interested enough to write blogs.)  For some of us that’s not feeling at home in who we are or who we’ve been created to be or wanting what someone else has.  For some of us that’s knowing that it’s okay for everyone not to like us at all times of every day and that’s perfectly fine too.

It’s such a delicate balance that whole letting go and letting God thing that we do because our baggage in a lot of ways is what makes us – us.  In survival mode we tend to hold even tighter to the things that are familiar even if they are the ones that have harmed us because it’s what we know.  I’ve never been the hugest of Oprah fans.  I watch.  Hello – at 4 pm in the afternoon what do you watch if not that and don’t tell me ESPN.  But since she got into this whole new age kick and has been talking like she’s this all knowing being, I haven’t really jived with her as well as before.  Anyway, in thinking about this whole healing thing and our baggage, I start thinking in some ways like this new age person – the whole surround yourself and draw to yourself all the good in the universe and release all the bad.  You know the whole clear yourself of the toxins thing.

And I do believe it.  I plan on getting a lovely massage, body scrub, fascial extravaganza at Belue Day Spa next week because I want to scrub away any sign of the hospital and cleanse my body and soul from this whole thing.  I do believe that we’ve got to release all of the cruddy yuckiness whether that be someone that gets on our last nerves or someone that has really hurt our feelings or someone who has told us we’re not good enough or smart enough or whatever enough or people that have generally made our lives little pits of you know where.  Holding on to any of that awfulness is not of God and it is not healthy.  Those are the toxins.  If only we could drink enough glasses of water to really cleanse ourselves of all of these deep and abiding hurts so that we can really experience healing.  We somehow remember the most meaningless of little things if it is hurtful to us.  That thing in the 8th grade that someone told us that really hurt our feelings should have no bearing on the life that we have now and yet somehow, those wounds are still there and often it’s the times of fear that bring them back.

I have fibromyalgia.  No, I am not a Lyrica commercial.  Yes, the Lyrica commercials actually get on my nerves.  Yes, I guess they help people know what it is, but who knows?  I know that on the tv show House, the lovely Gregory said that fibromyalgia doesn’t exist.  I also know that the neurologist I saw a week and a half ago didn’t believe in it either and just said it was a form of depression.  Wow.  Not even touching that one with a 10 foot pole except that we’re going to a different neurologist.  And know it has no relation to the brain tumor and no treatment of the tumor will not help it.  (I say these things because these are some of the questions we’ve asked too!)  I’m not telling you that I have fibromyalgia for any other reason than to say I know that there are many people that seek and search for healing.  I’m a part of a small clergywomen’s group – there’s maybe 7 of us total – and more than half of us have fibromyalgia.  That’s crazy.  Or maybe we’re just masichistic people.  All of us are in different stages of this journey and have found different ways to love and enjoy life but I know that all of us struggle with serving this creator God of love and seeking urgently to be healed.

The summer I moved back to Rock Hill was especially hard for me because I loved Atlanta and Emory and my home there.  It was a hot summer, Mike was traveling back and forth to Atlanta and the Winthrop students hadn’t arrived yet and I was feeling out of my element.  In the midst of the fibro and just feeling all out lowsy sometimes my mom gave me this verse written on this little card with a chick (you know the baby chicken not the other kind) on the front.  She told me I needed to claim it.  Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, O Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.”  It rocked it out in my pocketbook for a while and then got a little faded so has made its way into my wallet.  There have been plenty of times when I have felt cruddy.  Hello stitches on my head.  There have been plenty of times when I know that there has got to be someone more suited for this or better equipped or in better shape or more eloquent or smarter or more organized or more extroverted or charismatic or a better fundraiser, but you just can’t argue with something as simple as “Heal me, O Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.”

Some of you may say well that’s stupid blind faith.  Nope.  Not a bit.  It to me is saying that it’s not just about this.  It’s not just about our present baggage whether that’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, whatever.  It’s about the larger picture – the larger story of our life – “Heal me, O Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.”  I don’t imagine Tony Stark saying that.  Bahahahaha….  But I do invite us (me) to remember that and to say those words and trust those words not just with the big things like brain tumors, but with the little things in between.  We had a girl’s night this past week and saw Letters to Juliet.  (I know you’re thinking – is this girl ever at home resting – don’t worry – I am.)  It was a predictable but really great movie.  I loved watching Vanessa Redgrave and the thing that stuck out to me was when they’re pulling up at this really nice house and the guy (her grandson) says something along the lines of wow Gran what if we could end up living here.   You meet the love of your life at 16, skip the messy bits and then go straight to living in the mansion in your old age.  What I liked was what she said in return.  “LIFE is the messy bits.”  Life is the messy bits.  Yes, the messy bits are what make us who we are.  The messy bits are what makes the tapestry of our lives.  The messy bits have been woven together to make the amazing mosaics of color and light that shine forth through us.  God knows all of our messy bits.  Those things that nobody knows.  Those things that only a very few select people know.  Those mortifying things that whole gaggles of folks know but we’re still not saying them outloud.  Our messy bits are all out there.  I hope that we have the courage to let the light of God break in on those.  That the healing good energy (okay Oprah) can surge through.  That the prayers of cleansing and powerful might of refinishing that is even beyond that of a good spa day – may open our minds, bodies, and souls up to healing beyond our imagination.

Whatever those words that we need to hear.  Whatever the feelings and memories and people that we need to let go.  Whatever the beautiful and cleansing energy we need to grasp hold of.  May we feel refreshed.  May we feel renewed.  May we feel at home with the One who heals us and knows us intimately.

Posted in Faith, Movies, Music, Worship

Laminin

Hi y’all,

So I’m trying to have a little church up in here.  No I’m not singing loud and freaking out any nurses, don’t worry.  But a friend sent this Louie Giglio video to me last week and I remember one of my students this semester telling me about this amazing thing called Laminin that’s like the rebar of the body.  I like the image of the rebar because that’s what holds just about everything together in Nicaragua and it’s great, sturdy, strong stuff.  I don’t know how much of this whole laminin thing is true and I’m not always one to send out mass forwards and things like this, but I do think that it’s again so super cool and neat how amazingly intricate our bodies are and that there is a master Creator and Physician that builds us up from the inside out and holds us close.  Does that mean that this Creator God of ours loves those that don’t get well or get the answers they’d like to have any less?  Heck no.  But it does mean that the cross of Christ is ever before us calling us forth to new life and new beginnings and new realities each step of the way.  Maybe a cheesy video but very cool nonetheless.  How Great is Our God!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e4zgJXPpI4

Posted in Campus Ministry, Culture, Faith, Family, Health, Movies, Music, Tumor

San Francisco

Mom and I watched a movie last night with Clark Gable and an opera singer called San Francisco.  Although her opera singing was not the favorite of my ears, the story was decent and talked about the great earthquake and fire of San Francisco and faith and all sorts of interesting historical stuff. It was much better than watching the cartoons, news and newborn channel on the hospital television.

So they’ve taken off the lefthand iv and took out the righthand iv this morning.  They removed the staples from the central line in my neck yesterday so the only things left to do to get me out of here is take the bandage off of my neck and remove the drip.  Definitely gives new thought to the phrase “brain drain.”  Other than that I’m doing pretty well.   I have to admit now that I wasn’t so sure that I was going to wake up as me.  I know that they didn’t say anything about me not being myself when I woke up but with the whole brain thing I was concerned that I was going to just be here but not really be here.  But I am here!  My head hurts of course – duh! but my real slightly silly brain is here and for that I am truly, truly thankful!  If I could do a little jig I probably would (I think of Papa Mac my grandfather dancing down the aisle singing Lord of the Dance with his two leg prostheses).

It’s been sad watching the news here with the floods and I can’t imagine what those families are going through.  Many prayers for each of them and all of the days, weeks, and years ahead.  I keep saying surreally that I just had brain surgery, but I certainly didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with water all around and losing my family.  May God’s peace, strength, and presence surround these people in ways that they can’t even comprehend.

It’s amazing to me the strength of the human spirit and that push to keep going whether to the frontier of San Francisco, that beautiful 16 year old girl wanting to get back out and travel again in her sailboat or in watching this World Cup action and the exhilaration and electricity that come from people uniting in a common theme and cause!  We’ll see what the doctors say in the days and weeks to come.  As Mike told y’all, the doctor got all of the tumor except one line that was where it was fuzzy and close to the motor cortex.  They’ll either wait and see, do some chemo and radiation or will go back in and do another surgery.  Either way looks like I won’t be making it to Nicaragua in August but I know the students will have a blast!

I’m tired and I’m definitely not back to normal, but it feels good to know that I’ll get to see my kids soon and that life is going on as usual for now.  Josh is leading a Bible Study at Annual Conference right now so Mom and I have been praying for him.  He and Dad will travel back this way this afternoon.  Caleb was with us the morning of the surgery and GiGi has been sending us updated picture messages on the phone of the kids.  Mike will be doing the music at St. John’s – Fort Mill this morning.  Renee, Guyeth and Rob visited yesterday and they were each a blessing!  Prayers for Lindsay, my cousin and Guyeth and Rob’s daughter who got t-boned by a car full of 5 guys last night in New Orleans.  Even though it flipped, her Explorer just seemd to have one dent which is a blessing but I know she’s going to be sore and shaken up so prayers for peace, relaxed muscles, and rest.

So life goes on and just like those people in the crazy movie San Francisco – it may not all be pretty and it may be a fight, but it is life and we serve and know and trust the One who goes before us and beside us and ever with us each step of the way.  Praise be to God!

This is the link I wanted to post for you on Friday – it’s a song from Amy Grant’s new record – “Overnight” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cPYk6qB4Q0

  I also wanted to share with you Michael W. Smith’s “Healing Rain.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo1bjTOFbZA