Friday, June 3, 2011

Broken Hallelujah

"Take the hand of the person next to you and let's pray." It was a baby dedication at church, but with those words, the dam broke. The whisperings I couldn't identify and fears I fought to validate by acknowledgement, rushed unbridled through the canyons of my heart. And again, tears.

I'm part of our church worship team. Often as I sit and look out at my church family and feel thankful for people who worship unashamed, empathy for families who have suffered loss, encouragement from those who are living above their trials through the strength of God. Last Sunday, I felt naked.

The worship set started. We took our places and began the first chorus. I tried to push my torment down, but my voice soon faltered. Strength evaporated and by the third chorus, my voice fell silent. I prayed. God, this is all I can do right now. I'm here, before You. This is all I have for You today.

When a broken hallelujah all you have,
that is all God wants.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Without Words

"I just can't believe that is what God means.
I can't believe that is what God wants."

Cloaked in the comfort of a dark evening, words flowed, weaving the uneven rhythm of a searching heart. Stories of people with a law-based belief and people, who name God their own, but live like He is not; church pew Christians who leave God behind at the last Amen, and blend seamlessly with the world. He said, “It is a confusing message.”

I didn’t hear about what people said to him. I heard about what he saw.

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach
unless our walking is our preaching."
Francis of Assisi

Our testimony is WITHOUT WORDS.
We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered
from finding the Lord by the way we act,
and so no one can find fault with our ministry. 2 Chor. 6:3

He recognized something not right. Of that I am glad. I wondered though, has he ever seen enough of the real Jesus to fully understand a counterfeit?

His words urged me. Search.

How can we who call ourselves believers of God, Christians, lead people from the truth? How is it possible that we can give such an altered impression of God that people lose desire to know Him for themselves? How can I? Many times, my actions don't line up with my words.

I am on the worship team at church. I can think of more than one Sunday helping lead worship and wondering if my daughter might be thinking What a fake. It was difficult to remember the fight we had the day before or even that morning and then stand there and worship as if my heart were pure. Thankfully, worship purifies.

How about the new guy at work, who is developing a dislike for me because I am not very kind and patient with him. And then there is family. I wish I could look past my lack of grace toward my family. But I can't. Why is it so challenging for me to be loving, open and accepting with them? Lord have mercy.

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing. 2 Chor. 2:15

Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it wrong.
I don't want to hinder. I want to be a fragrance.
A fragrance Without Words.
For more impressions on this quote see our host Tami at The Next Step and Writing Canvas.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hide in Plain Sight

I knew when I typed. I wanted to make her real and It always costs me something in my last post, I was in for it.

Welcome to the tennis match of God's workshop. Into my orderly life He lobbed a seemingly innocent stint on stage followed by the cross court backhand of my friend's post The Best Way To Hide and rushed the net for the kill shot by throwing me into a situation I haven't allowed in years. Years!

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:1-4

I learned early to run to God's comfort and security. He is the only true and safe place when any of us face what is bigger than us. But, had I taken it to a professional level? Instead of hiding to dwell with Him, was I just hiding?

When it comes to acting, I work hard. If the character isn't real, people will not relate. A character without layers is not real. Thus my predicament. To achieve a depth of layers, I have to dig deep into my own. Trust me, they are many and deep and have been hidden for a long time. This is where the cost comes. When the script is placed back on the shelf, the pesky tools I dug around to find are not so easily returned. They demand the attention of reality stripped of any character I conjure in my imagination.

Our church Christmas program this year was about loss. I thought I had escaped digging into my past, when I was asked to be the Assistant Director. One night, we worked a key scene again and again. Everyone was exhausted and the actors, though amazing, were struggling to understand what the director wanted. I sat there on the front row, heart pounding, bargaining with God. Don't make me go there! Please, don't make me talk about it. I obeyed and forced my biggest skeleton out of hiding. Telling them what it felt like to have an unfaithful husband was as excrutiating that night as the day I found out. Although I was a mess for weeks, God replaced what I released with another healing step forward.

Compared to Christmas, I breezed through my next play even though God continued His relentless baseline volley. This time the lessons were offstage. I wanted to put the tools safely away. I wanted to say. Let the retreat begin! He said, No. You have to quit hiding it. If you want to be mine, you can't keep hiding from pain. You have to be willing to hurt again.

The ball is in my court. Now what am I going to do about it?
This is for me.

This is for you. Are there things you would rather hide? Please don't let me think I'm the only one. The ball is in your court. What do you want to do about it?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Stage of Life

Sunday wrapped up performances of Annie Get Your Gun. I played Dolly, a silly character who ended up on the short end of many jokes. Poor Miz, Tate indeed! But, I didn't want to just provide punchlines, I wanted to make her real.

My adventure had it's final bow and I wrangled my last gun. Why, when I know how behind I am on projects for my soon to graduate daughter and work is on overload, don't I feel total relief? Afterall, my life that went into a holding pattern is now screaming for attention.

Even though I was pushed reluctantly into this production, I loved it. Some people don't get why I do theater. Sure it is an escape from daily life, but there is so much more. Putting myself into something like that is thrilling, exhausting, scary, tons of fun and it always costs me something. By Sunday night, the stage was bare, the theater cleaned and the goodbyes said. My emotions crashed against each other and I was in an exhausted heap.

God, what was that all about? How can something be so fulfilling and leave me empty at the same time? Why do I do this?

Creation. The excitement and applause of performance are nice, but what I love, love, LOVE is the process of creation. I am fascinated by discovering a character, learning what makes them who they are and bringing them to life. There are bits and pieces in the script and clues in what other people bring to the process, figuring out where my character is going and how it fits into the big picture of the story. Then gathering all the little shards, pressing them together and molding them into something real, relatable. I'm not saying I'm great at it and I'm learning more every time, but that process is what I love.

It is what real life is about. Creation. God gives us a script, the bible. He puts people and things in our lives who shape the process. He has a big picture plan for each of us, and a journey we are on. Our lives are His stage.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

God, keep me focused and passionate in pursuit of the me You created. Help me discover, be drawn forward and molded by You so I can be ready for good works and worthy of whatever stage you choose for me.

Monday, January 10, 2011


If I made a list of my favorite years, years upon remembering bring a smile to my heart, 2010 would not be on it. There was no catastrophic event, when once survived, I could pin a badge of courage. It was simply the accumulation of life. Family loss, business changes, work stress, overwhelming demands, health challenges. I would be embarrassed to divulge details because any one of these are small potatoes compared to the suffering some faced. Nevertheless, I was worn down.

By mid-December I was checking off days until I could turn the calendar, close the lid on a tough year and tuck it on the back shelf. I know there isn’t anything changed on the 1st than there was on the 31st, but it just feels different. A clean start. With much of the muck resolved, I hoped 2011 would be a year of ease. Boy, was I ready for ease. I peered into the months ahead and I knew they would times to embrace and savor.

Christmas week, our business got a bad report. My spirit slumped. In the following days, the breadth of the situation widened. Business was brought nearly to a complete stop while we assessed, regrouped and planned. This problem will negatively impact our business until long into 2012. My hope of ease vanished.

God, do we really have to do this AGAIN?

" . . . to refuse to bend our shoulders to carry a load
is to miss a new opportunity for growth."

J.R. Miller from Streams in the Desert

Yes, AGAIN. He said

I sat before Him in silence. I should have felt despair, panic, anger and sure, I felt some of that. But those emotions came like a faint whisper. What came boldly was comfort from all the challenges God has brought me through. That knowing swept over me.

If I had not chosen to bend to those loads in the past, despair and panic would still rule. But I did bend and God bent with me. In choosing to bend, God strengthened my resolve, my dependence and my knowing Him.

This year will not be easy. I can't say what life will look like as it wanes. It may not look pretty, but I know it will be allright. Facing the heaviness of burdens is easier now because I chose to bend. Of course there are plenty of times I chafe from the strain. Times my focus falters and I blow it. But, every time I choose to bend again, so does God.

He who listens to me shall dwell securely
and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.
Prov 1:33

This year will be a different kind of ease.
I choose to bend. AGAIN.