Stir crazy, with a humbling dose of perspective.

Have you ever been accused of going stir crazy?  It’s usually because you’re doing something, actively physically freaking out or demonstrating a lack of control over some issue, right?  I am currently going stir crazy in my mind!  Friday, my knee decided to “spontaneously dislocate and relocate” itself, while I was standing still! Can you believe that is even possible? My husband was sure I was being melodramatic.  I’m not a melodramatic person,and once he saw the marshmallow developing where my kneecap used to be visible, he realized I was in trouble.  Now, I’m as spontaneous as they come but, I had no idea the rest of my body felt that free of restriction as well!  So, I’m now 4 days into my convalescence and next week is a hiking field trip with my son!  That should be interesting, don’t you think?  Do you ever get those times when you become so narcissistic and just don’t quite keep everything in the right perspective, even while thinking you are?

Yesterday, that perspective came to a head.  About a year ago, I became reacquainted with a wonderful woman through Facebook, whom I had known in my youth group in high school and college.  I also knew her sister and we have great memories of our various antics.  I was stunned to read yesterday morning on my friend’s page, that she was asking for prayer for her sister’s family because she was in OK, right in the path of the tornado and they hadn’t heard from her yet because she was at school with her son!  All of a sudden, nothing else took precedent over my fervent prayer that God would see fit to grant mercy to that family and bring them home safe together.  About an hour or two later, she checked in on Facebook and I’m sure all of us who read that beautiful short paragraph breathed a silent prayer of gratitude as we sighed with relief.  They are whole when so many families are not.  They will still deal with the devastation that took out most of their neighborhood and the long term recovery process along with all the post traumatic stress that goes along with all of this tragedy,

I start physical therapy on Friday for my knee.  I’m going to do all I can to be able to participate in my son’s field trip because that’s a priority for me.  However, if I don’t for some reason beyond my control, I know I tried my best and it is not as important as having my family together, all in one piece.

One reporter was interviewing a lady who survived the tornado and as the survivor described her harrowing ordeal and the steps she had taken, the reporter said, and I quote:”It’s almost like a miracle that you escaped from your house with no injuries.  What were you doing?”  The survivor went on to explain standing with pillows surrounding her and how she prayed!  “What did you say?” she was asked by the reporter.  The survivor replied:”I just prayed, God help me, and I believe He did.  He took care of us, just like he always has.”  This is a woman who’s whole house and neighborhood was leveled and yet, she knows it wasn’t almost a miracle.  It was the providence of a loving God who heard and answered her prayer.

I know many will automatically think of the lives lost, where was God then?  I don’t know how to address that question without personally having a conversation with the person asking such a valid question.  I cannot answer that to anyone’s satisfaction, myself included, so I will not even speculate.  I cannot even pretend to know the motives or reason for what happens in this fallen world of ours.  I know God is ever present and His mercy is endless.  I will remain in prayer, knowing I am gathered with so many other believers, (you included, perhaps), in supporting the hundreds of families dealing with the aftermath of one of the worst disasters in recent history.  

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Are your habits inhibiting you?

As I sat down to begin my writing session, I noticed with a raise of my eyebrow, my keys were out on the table where any old ne’er do well could snatch them away!  In case that isn’t notice enough for you, I am paranoid by nature, and not entirely without cause.  I also hold firmly to the belief, just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!  So I sit in this public place with my purse locked between my ankles, keys firmly placed inside, back to the wall, surveying the perimeter every few sentences just to be aware, not just of who is out there but, what their motives are, individually.  Yes, it’s pretty crazy in this head of mine.  There’s a man to my left, also hunched over his keyboard, and now seeing what I must look like, my back is now straight. I think I could take him, no threat there. The two women on my right happen to be an acquaintance of mine and her business associate, all quiet on the Western front as far as they are concerned. And, the people at the counter are at a negligible distance to be any real worry, unless the spike heels are designed for treachery. I think I’ll leave that comment as is…

There is a reason for my paranoia about my portal openers above the everyday “hard to get home let alone in my house without my keys” dilemma.  This keychain also contains my work keys.  Some people are able to have two rings, one personal and one business.  I already know to separate these keys is a disaster waiting  to happen for me.  When I signed for my keys I agreed to keep them safe and secure and always be aware of where they are and to notify the key master immediately if they are lost, so locks can be changed, in two separate buildings which include over 20 different points of access!  No pressure there! 

Whenever I think of that moment, I remember an almost physical weight of responsibility and this deep mental voice, (I have many different ones, but don’t worry, they have yet to argue with each other.) saying clearly in the back of my mind: “With great privilege comes great responsibility.”  I am fully capable of the responsibility, mind you.  And it brings wonderful freedom of access to the buildings when I need to work any hours and not bother someone to let me in, etc.  I have also developed different habits as a result.  I get a little panicky if I can’t find my keys at home within 5 minutes.  Clearly, if you can’t find the keys you drove home with within 5 minutes inside a 900 square foot house, there are probably other issues adding to your panic level but, that’s a different post.

I also keep my keys handy all the time at work.  I have to because of the frequency with which I need to travel between different locked offices and buildings, none of which bothers me in the least.  I keep my keys out and no problem. 

So at home I tend to have them in my hand when I get home but, not being in work mode I drop them somewhere vague because of two young ones and one not so young one needing me in 6 different ways.  Right now, I had them out because of just coming from work, yet not quite making the switch out of work mode.

How many times do I do this with other aspects of my life?  Switching from mode to mode without even thinking about it, unless there is some tangible item to remind me? As I sit and ponder this amazing process of instant switches shutting on and off inside my brain, I think of what triggers these different areas on and off.  I know when I come home, the way my front door and couch are situated, the first thing I see as the door swings wide, is a picture of my family on a side table and our family bible next to two photo albums of family vacations taken over the last few years.  This does two things.  It reminds me I am in my own home with my favorite people and, it begs the question of me, have I spent any time in God’s word today?  It’s a habit to open the door to these thoughts and it instantly floods my mind with domestic type thoughts of dinner, loved ones, prayer, and cleaning instead of deadlines, schedules, meetings, and cleaning (I work with children, one can never clean enough!).  Although I’m not always aware of the thoughts washing over my brain like a tidal wave and switching off work mode, I would instantly know if any of those items were not there to greet me.  I have other habits that are not so helpful.

I am constantly frustrated by my habit of procrastination.  Right now, I need to call the dentist and reschedule a cleaning for the second time for the same reason.  In fact, I just paused my typing to call them and so I can scratch that off the list, see I can be taught!  There are other things that would be so much more pleasant if I just took care of them as they happened instead of waiting until just before whatever deadline approaches and I go into intensity mode.  I’m getting better, I’ve been alive long enough now to chart the progress.  It’s more akin to charting the migratory patterns of a snail but, I’m confident I’m still moving in a forward pattern. I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and wow, I’m only one month into it but, it’s good! I need some habits, like setting time with God’s Word as a priority. If I say I really love Him more than anything else, why aren’t I spending time with Him more than anyone or anything, else?

Which way are you moving? Are you caught up in the momentum of habits either good or bad, or do you have fail safes in place to keep you grounded in the moment? What triggers your behavior patterns and how can you change them, if in fact they need changing? Remember habits are formed by repetition, which usually requires some physical action from you, not just thinking about doing something but, actually acting it out, repetitively. Did I mention you have to repeat an action if you want it to become a habit? Public speakers often repeat a key phrase or point to make sure it sits in your head for a while, and you probably don’t even realize they’re doing it! What do you do absent minded? Is it helping or hindering you?

Please prove you’re not a robot…you first!

It’s a fairly recent phenomenon, at least on the computer timeline.  Leaving a comment on a friend’s blog would only process for approval after I “proved I was not a robot” by typing in the blurry words provided by “the robot”.  Irony, anyone?  I’m assuming there is not a human just sitting waiting to get these words run across his or her screen typed correctly so he or she can press the “approved” button verifying the key tapper on the other end is in fact biological in nature.  And so, I can only assume another robot approved my non-robotic proof.  I would love the opportunity to type, YOU FIRST!  And then, my friend would never get my comment and sooooo, I behaved and conformed to the cyber rule of humanity verified via machine. Deus ex machina, anyone?

There are so very many metaphors apparent with this one statement, “Please prove you’re not a robot”. They all come down to authenticity, don’t they? Everywhere you look, we are bombarded with constant reminders of what we need to succeed. Clever jingles remind us we might have been born attractive but chances are, it’s really the makeup which allows us to be presentable in public. Even Abercrombie and Fitch is in trouble, or at least the CEO is, coming under fire for not selling XL clothes because he wants to “attract the cool kids”. There are so many choices out there for all of our daily needs and desires, it’s a wonder any business stays in business very long! So, how do we stay authentic? I’m glad you asked! You did ask, didn’t you?

Authenticity is not easy for everyone. In the truck today, my 6 year old daughter asked if we really “need” money. She has been pondering our misuse of money as a society ever since she found out about way back when’s bartering system. She feels we don’t really need money. Everyone should just do what they are good at and share equally with others and everyone will have what they need! It really is as basic as that, isn’t it? And yet, I had to explain to her that to live in our culture unfortunately, we do need money to live and pay bills for all the different basic necessities. However, I told her, if we lived with a tribe somewhere, wherever they may still exist, we would live on what was around us to be found and money would no longer be an issue. She gets it! She loved that idea! We didn’t talk menu of course, (no need to burst her bubble) but, she gets the basic idea of all the materialistic excess we wallow in, and even more amazing, she sees how distracting it is from relationships. She keeps me grounded, that little logical scientist!

I feel a bit like a social chameleon, most of the time. Having lived in different countries, I became very adept, very young, at blending into situations, observing the cultural norm and doing my best to copy it. There were many families who could not and would not incorporate the local culture in all the countries I lived in, demanding everyone else recognize where they were from and proudly refuse to be educated in the present culture and so they missed out on many treasures our family experienced because of our willingness to soak up what other’s had to offer. While in these situations however, I do my very best to be true to who I am, my inside values and ethics don’t change even though my body language and words do, according to the circumstance in which I find myself. For example, I wouldn’t follow a dare which compromised my morals just to fit in, or do anything else I don’t agree with to go along with the crowd but, I would change my syntax and etiquette to not stand out and to show appreciation for someone else’s turf. There are times I am not true as well, such as at my writer’s group. (That’s the most tame example I feel comfortable sharing, I know there are more, sigh.) Not sharing when I really should have, because it’s part of why I joined in the first place. Darn inner introvert was shining through, or perhaps that’s the wrong way to put it, I was dulling down to my subconscious self-conscious and not venturing out.

Are you authentic? Are you, YOU, no matter what? Are you able to adapt to surroundings instead of having them adapt to you? Or do you demand to stand out at the expense of others? Perhaps you don’t even realize what you’re missing. My challenge to you is take a deep breath, and hold it! Okay, that was metaphorically speaking, breathe! If you tend to be the loudest one in the room, try something new and, step back, observe and soak in. If you are the wallflower type, take a chance, step out and join in the mayhem surrounding you, it might be the best time of your life! Just stay the course, keep true to who you are, don’t be a robot and compromise your value. It might be an experience worth repeating.

To share or not to share.

Have you ever wanted to share and just couldn’t find the words?  Well, can’t blame it on that one this time!  I just joined a writer’s group.  An inaugural meeting of eclectic people, all unified  in faith, which we will keep each other accountable to, and so what did we do after introductions?  We wrote!  A devotional was read, we were asked to write about how that inspired us, and I wrote!  It was short, sweet, and done.  Then we shared.  Just like our parents taught us, well, except for the one person in the room who said at the beginning of the evening, she joined to share this part of her life which until starting this blog, was “secret”. People knew she wrote, she never shared anything she wrote except for a poem in 8th grade.  Now she’s all grown up, joining a group for encouragement and she gave them nothing to encourage her on, whatsoever!  They gave her two chances, for crying out loud!  The words were right in front of her and she balked.  Sigh, yes, “she” is me.   What I wrote had a rhythm, it became a speaking song, think back to INXS, “Hallucinate, dessegregate, mediate, alleviate, try not to hate…”.  Remember that one?  Go ahead, youtube it, I’ll wait.

I can write what I wrote here, even knowing my fellow group members have asked where my blog is, and will be reading it because, I actually want them to read it, I just don’t feel comfortable saying it.  Sheeesh!  I’m bold in so many other areas but, when it comes to writing from the heart or my own ideas, that gets so intense!  So, the devotion was about Fear no evil…And right away, I hear in my head and write on my paper:

Words whisper across my heart,

Reassuring, affirming through the landscape of learning,

Hold tight, don’t let go.

Take time to listen to that still, small voice.

Lean into the wind of uncertainty, expect God to show up.

He’s already there, the next step is mine, mine alone.

(At this point, the song, chant if you will, took effect)

Chorus:

Near me, around me, I lost me, He found me, surrounds me, confounds me, with undying love.

Verse:

Turn around, and walk away.

End this day and start to pray.

Deepen faith already there,

Sow the seeds of love and prayer.

Chorus:

Near me, around me, I lost me.  He found me, surrounds me, confounds me with undying love.

Now that wasn’t hard to write here at all. And, in all truth, if someone had pointedly asked me to share, I would have felt compelled to, and now I have told our fearless leader how to draw me out. I can give a monologue on stage in front of a hundred people.  I can sing in a musical, not the solo, let’s not get crazy, and perform, minus the first 30 seconds of stage fright.  I can lead a night of ministry to youth!  And stay completely silent on sharing my writing.  Oh, the irony.  And now, I challenge myself, in front of whomever reads this, known and unknown, to share and squeeze every ounce of experience out of this group.

 What’s your challenge this week? What’s one area you are completely uncomfortable with but, want to improve on or think would impact others if you would just step out of your comfy little box and, reach out, sing out, type out, act out, play out? Insert your own adjective here!  And don’t just think about it, do it!  I’ll keep you posted on my stage fright.

Strengthen what remains, and is about to die.

Wow!  A revelation from Revelations!  Who says the Bible is no longer current?  It’s alive!  It has just as much relevance today as it did when it was inspired!

I had so much inspiration after listening to a day of praying and Francis Chan, I had to write two posts to accommodate all I have in my heart to share! Although this title is from Revelation chapter 3, in Romans chapters 9-11, Paul referred to believers as the remnant when he spoke to the churches over 1,000 years ago! How much more are we that remnant? How much closer are we to the end of this world, which to Christians, is just the beginning?

So, how do we strengthen what remains? Why is it about to die? I feel the answer is the same to both questions. A phenomenal woman of faith, (with whom I have the pleasure of assisting alongside in her ministry), and I were discussing the desperation and attacks which are happening with our next generation. The hopelessness, the busyness, the constant distractions and lack of guidance. Someone needs to fight for these fledgling believers! Someone needs to be bold! We spoke of putting on the armor of God and going to battle for these girls! Staying in the Word, keeping scripture close in our hearts and in so doing, close to our mouths. Pray without ceasing, it’s a great verse, easy and relevant in so many ways. It’s in I Thessalonians 5:17. My radio stays tuned to lyrics which echo my faith 97% of the time so I’m armed and ready to go! Are you? There is a gap of empty space too many of our youth are falling into for lack of anyone filling it in with love and acceptance or bridging it with a path to follow! Let me be clear about acceptance. You don’t have to condone behavior you know goes against the freedom of living in God’s will. You do need to accept the person who is hurting inside and so perhaps participating in a behavior you feel is holding them back from really experiencing God’s love.

I’m going to stand in the gap! I’m going to reach out in small groups and reach out in my personal relationships, and reach out wherever I see need and am able to meet it, again and again and again, to extend a hand with no strings attached, simply to portray a living God to a dying world. How are you going to stand in the gap?