Posted in calling, Music, Vocation

Beautiful Things

I admit that Mike and I are a bit obsessed with Gungor at present.  I really, really enjoy their music and their “God is Not a White Man” video is hilariously awesome.  youtube it.

A couple Sundays ago I played their song, “Beautiful Things” in church and because I just couldn’t get it out of my head and I also think it’s something that is really important for us to “get,” we played it again this past Sunday.  The text was Jeremiah 1:4-10 and it’s where Jeremiah is saying “Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy…” And God responds saying hey – I’ve got this.  Don’t just tell me the I’m only’s because I’ll send you where I need you to go and I’ll give you the words to speak.  I’ve got this therefore – you’ve got this.

During Salkehatchie for many years when the camp director would give out t-shirts, he would place the t-shirts like a mantle over the youth or adult leaders necks and he would say “God is counting on you” or “The Lord is counting on you” and then your response would be “I am counting on God” or likewise. 

For me this was always a little bit an uneasy thing.  Maybe the t-shirts were heavy – just kidding.  But I guess I felt the weight of the statement that we were saying.  Now there’s a part of me that says – hey God is God – God doesn’t need us to do anything – God can do anything God wants.  But there’s another side that says – but God called us – we are to be in on this awesome partnership with God.  We are the agents for change that with the Spirit of God are called to bring God’s kingdom to earth.


I think of the Mercy Me song – “Word of God Speak.” 

Love that song.  Great to help quelch some fears and very true.

But sometimes this fear of being called to this place.  This fear of speaking out in truth and love.  This fear of stepping up to anything can rob us of so much…much more than we realize.  And let me tell you – we pastors fear these things too.  I’m sure professors and great presenters and presidents and congresspeople and all sorts of folks – feel a great deal of fear when they step up to the mic.  How can you not?

But we in this partnership with God – we can trust that we’ll have the words to speak when we need them.  God will come through for us.  If we open ourselves up to the leading of God, God won’t leave us hanging.  I’m calling this a partnership even though I completely realize that what we bring to the table and what God brings to the table are two totally different things and we only bring stuff at all to the table by the grace of God.  But I also say it’s a partnership because we are active and alive and crucial to this spreading of the Gospel – the spreading of the Word of God. 

In seminary I took this class with Dr. Brian Mahan called “Forgetting Ourselves On Purpose” or FOOP for short.  He wrote a book by the same name.  We also read Parker Palmer’s “Let Your Life Speak” in this class and I enjoyed both of them.  For some of us we are so concerned about what our life will say – we’re so concerned about our book sales, our successes, our failures, etc. that we get lost in the mix.  We’re so scared that we won’t measure up or be good enough that we lose ourselves and the whole point of all this in the process.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”  This dance that we’re doing with God – it’s not by our own abilities, it’s by the Spirit of God at work in us.  It’s not based on who has lived what’s seemed like the “best” life, but it is based on the grace of God that is alive and well in us.

One of the students at Wesley last night said that she asked a friend of hers from high school to come to Wesley with her.  They were working on in the gym – no big deal – just come on over with me.  And she said the girl told her that if she went, people would laugh at her.  The student of mine told her – no one there will laugh at you, it will be great…and then the girl told her, no not them.  If I tell my family I’ve gone to Wesley, if I tell my family I’ve been to church, they’ll laugh at me.

God did not make us with a measuring stick stuck to us that we may test out who is good enough and who is not.  God did not make us to live in fear and shame from ourselves without way to get out.  God made beautiful things out of dust and God breathed life into these beautiful things and God calls these beautiful things to be the mouthpieces of a new way of life.  No it is not easy and yes we will sometimes be scared, but God has called us to this place, in this time for a purpose and a word for those around us. 

I remember on one of my little brother’s walls as a child, there being a cross-stitched picture that said, “God don’t make junk.”  I think there was another phrase with it and a picture, but all I can remember is the “God don’t make junk.” 

We are each made in the quirky sometimes weird way that we are and that’s beautiful in and of itself.  We had a beautiful, amazingly spirit-filled, beautiful offertory on Sunday in The Journey – awesome clarinet music.  Wow the talent and the amazing gift of God!  We don’t all have to be the best musicians or the prettiest girl and the handsomest guy or the most athletic or the smart one in the family or the friendly cheerleader, or whatever else.  God made Jeremiah.  God called Jeremiah.  God made each and every one of us (hello Psalm 139) and God has called us.

And if you’re like me and you want to see them play the instruments…very, very cool.

Posted in change, Community, Grace, Health, Music, Tumor

Neurologist Update

Hi y’all,

I realized earlier today I haven’t really updated folks on the latest health stuff.  It’s both easy and difficult to push that to the back of my mind – especially this time of the year as we prepare for the students return.

Mike and I went a couple weeks ago to the new neurologist and she’s great!  An Emory Med School grad and it was like night and day from before which was great.  Mike particularly liked her which is high praise.  We talked to her about the small things that have changed since the surgery and she did some tests that proved that we weren’t just imagining things.  I have found that I can’t always remember simple things or people’s names even I’ve known them forever.  She showed me some flash cards with simple objects on them and although I knew what each was and they were simple like an umbrella or something like that.  I couldn’t actually say all of their names for a little while.  It’s like I know it but there’s some sort of delay or block.  I knew that I had been feeling this way but when she did that test, I knew for sure, that everything wasn’t “back to normal.”  We then did a test where you’re supposed to walk in a straight line.  Yes, like the drunk test.  Welp, totally bombed that one too.  I haven’t noticed any difference in regular life with my motor skills so that was a little startling to know that even that’s a little off.  She said she would testify on behalf if I failed a DUI test – no worries there since I can’t drive but it was funny nonetheless.

 I know that this is normal after brain surgery and many people laugh and say this comes with age.  I get that.  I’m not expecting to do everything that I could do before or to be able to snap my fingers and that this all will disappear.  But it’s tough because like she said that day – I look perfectly normal.  The way my hair is cut and the way I part it now completely covers up my scar that stretches 22 sutures from the top of my head to my ear.  Now that is a great haircut!  When you look normal and you’re trying to go back to your life and all of the same challenges and demands, it’s easy to forget that things are different.

For someone that talks and remembers things as part of her job – her ministry – her vocation – her life – not being able to think clearly on your feet is hard.  There’s no way around that.  Am I worried about August quickly approaching and getting ready for the school year?  Heck yes.  Am I worried that my normal “meditations” with the students in worship will be that much more difficult trying to remember and bring things together?  Yep.  Am I learning that I need to depend on other people more and I need to rest in the grace of God more?  Oh yeah.  I feel like a middle schooler without her license as I ask people for rides all the time.  But then again, it’s good to let others help you sometimes.  If we really are community it’s a balance of each of us helping and taking turns and building up the body.

Anyway – long story short – the neurologist says I’ll be on the seizure meds for 2 years if nothing happens again.  One piece of good news that I liked since I’m a little afraid of the seizures – if I have a little seizure (not go unconscious) then that doesn’t start over my 6 months wait to drive.  Scary I know.  Only if I go unconscious does that restart so November 28th I am looking forward to you!  I’ll see the neurologist again in January so the only thing on the docket now is the MRI in September.

That and getting ready for the school year!  But hey that’s just the normal crazy campus minister to do list…

Mike has done a lot of songs by Michael Gungor in The Journey service and I really do like his music a lot.  We’ve been playing the Gungor album “Beautiful Things” in our car for a while.  Below is a song by their group called “Please Be My Strength.”  It’s melody and lyrics speak to me and I hope it will speak to some of you.

I’ve tried to stand my ground
I’ve tried to understand
but I can’t seem to find my way
like water on the sand
or grasping at the wind
I keep on falling short
please be my strength
please be my strenth
I don’t have anymore
I don’t have anymore
I’m looking for a place
that I can plant my faith
one thing I know for sure
I cannot create it
I cannot sustain it
It’s Your love that’s keeping (captured) me
Please be my strength…
at my final breath
I hope that I can say
I’ve fought the good fight of faith
I pray your glory shines
through this doubting heart of mine
so my world would know that You
You are my strength
You and You alone
You and You alone
Keep bringin me back home