And if I offended you? Oh, I’m sorry… but, maybe you need to be offended!

Another song lyric from another time.

I was (and I still remain) a fan of punk, ska and other supposedly derelict music. Today, I love how Christian artists have expanded to cover the full realm of different genres, so I can still have the energy without the negativity of the lyrics. Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), did poetry readings in Long Beach when I lived there, fantastic! The lyrics may be less than savory to many people but, they are just the kind of in your face truth which we as a Christian community seem to lack. My husband just said to me, not 30 seconds ago as he looked over my shoulder and read my title, “You’re going to throw a little Suicidal Tendencies into your faith based blog?” I told him I certainly was going to do that, and more. You see, I feel a culmination coming and it’s scary and exciting and amazing. Everything I’ve learned from my life experience and everything I have done in different ministries up ’til now, is coming together for a different way to glorify God! Going down a different path is both familiar and fearful for me and yet, part of the familiarity is that fear of the unknown. Suicidal Tendencies knew the “shock value” effect of their name, they had no intentions of ending their lives, just shaking people up and out of their sheep-like stupor of mediocrity.

This morning I attended the National Day of Prayer Breakfast at William Jessup University. What an amazing way to start the day! Francis Chan was the keynote speaker and he spoke of becoming complacent. Are we worried about what others think about our stance, or are we worried about other’s relationship with Christ?

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3-2-1-Impact! A manifesto, of sorts…

I’m reading the special double issue of Entertainment Weekly which lists “the 100 all time greatest…” everything.  I thought for sure The Great Gatsby would be number one in books, what with it’s intense revival on the big screen but no, Anna Karenina is number one and I have one more book to add to my list of what to read.  A little more surprising is how many books made the list on number seven!  Not just one Harry Potter book in particular but, the whole series!  This has me thinking about my own dreams of becoming an acclaimed writer.

I love to write, it’s extremely enjoyable for me and cathartic, which is an extreme understatement.  Hearing it has an effect on other people’s lives is incredibly rewarding!  Yes I would appreciate the money it would bring in, as it would free up more time to write!  The freedom to not worry about such petty things like a mortgage or which store to shop at for groceries would be a novel concept I could probably get used to in a heartbeat!  I digress…

Above all, I want to have impact!  I don’t want to be successful for the sake of entertainment or sensationalism.  I want my stories to be meaningful, insightful, motivating and relevant to generations now and in the future.  If you’re gonna dream, dream big, right?  I’m just beginning my first inclusion in a writer’s group, which was a huge leap of moving forward for me, I’m blogging, and truly appreciative of every reader who enjoys my posts.

I want to inspire, regardless of age or gender or religion.  I want to share my faith, my experiences, the lessons I’ve learned and let someone else know they aren’t the only ones struggling, and joy is possible, even in the midst of sorrow.  I want to change people’s perspective, of themselves, of those around them, of their circumstance.  Impact people!  I want my words not just heard and read but FELT!  I hope my words bounce around inside the reader’s head for days provoking thoughts and feelings and self reflection, before finally landing in their heart to nourish and grow their confidence and self image.

Perhaps I wrote this to remind myself in the future, should my dream become reality and I somehow become tempted to compromise my dream in any way, to stay the course and keep on track.  And truth is, it’s more than a little daunting to think of being so successful I would appear on a list like this magazine.  I don’t do the hermit wallflower well anymore, and I would hope to remain in obscurity to some extent, privacy is important to me, despite how it may seem at times.

What’s your dream?  What are you doing about it?  Have you written your manifesto?  If you have, does it need tweaking?  If you haven’t, I get it, I’ve been writing for a couple decades and am just now seeing it as a possibly viable career.  I absolutely believe if I can put my dreams online for potential millions of people to read and therefore, hold me accountable to, anyone can, so what are you waiting for, go for it!

A flower quickly fading…

Casting Crowns is a band with really thought provoking songs, I really enjoy meditating on their lyrics.  They have a song especially poignant to me right now.  It’s called “Who am I?”  And it goes a little something, or exactly like, this:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
‘Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

Today I visited my friend in the hospital who is the flower in this song. She is truly fading, all too quickly. She is beautiful and as frail and fragile as the softest petals of the delicate iris and yet, as strong as the sunflowers which sustain the rain and keep reaching their heads to the sun. She knows she is God’s child and yet she feels completely alone. She has been surrounded by friends who honestly love her and care for her, and who have shown her love both physically with acts of random kindness, meals and cleaning and financial aid and spiritually with prayer and fellowship. And she remains detached. Thankful for the help but, always distant. Gracious to a fault but, always self deprecating. There have been many other ways she has been reached out to and because of her own challenges, she remains locked in a prison of her own making, unable to escape. She has experienced moments of clarity and reprieve from her dungeon of despair and deep disappointment, but never escape. There is a storm of merciless pain raging inside her and try as I might, I can’t break through to truly dissipate it. It’s been almost ten years of showing her how much she is truly loved and I have been through many emotions myself. Why won’t she accept the help? How can it possibly be better to stay with her known state of constant anxiety than to settle in the arms of peace and solitude? Why can’t she see the end result of this journey she is on and understand how much bigger it is than just her? What about her kids? Is she aware to any degree of being selfish by being so self absorbed by her own pain, she can’t see what’s happening to her children? She’s so overwhelmed but she doesn’t have to be, she can rise above all of this! She can, she will, she has to! And, as it turns out, she cannot see, she cannot rise, she cannot muster the will to see beyond the present day, perhaps even beyond the present hour. All I can do is pray.

I don’t mean that haphazardly or to dismiss the power of prayer. I know I am joining in with dozens of other voices in constant appeal, winding their way together, weaving a beautiful protective shroud of peace and God’s will in her life to be made clear. What do I pray for, what is left to hope for? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That is from Hebrews, chapter 11. How do you comfort a tortured soul? How do you reassure a soul she is loved when she stopped believing it a long time ago? How do you prove to someone they are a treasure when they can’t see past the trash heaped in their own life? How do you prove to someone they are worthy of love when long ago they chose to listen to the negative talk others subjected them to and adopted it as their own self image? I know when I pray, it has the power to synthesize all of these thoughts and lift them to a caring God who loves her more than I ever could! I don’t know why this is happening but, I know it will be used to God’s glory. I don’t say that lightly either. I am deeply saddened by my friend’s condition and I wept silent tears as I walked into her room and saw her small form drowned in the sanitary white bedsheets of her hospital bed. I was worried as I gently clasped her sweet cold hand and felt the slightest twitch, as she had neither the strength nor control to squeeze back. Pain squeezed my heart in a vice as I waited a minute or longer between asking her questions or making a comment because it took that long for her to form fragments of words, sentences were impossible. As I left, I saw the tears on her face after I leaned over to give her a kiss on her forehead, it was as if I was saying goodbye for longer than just today.

I was there 10 minutes and she was physically and mentally exhausted just in that short time, because it took such an effort to perform tasks we take for granted, like speaking. I left wondering if it would not be kinder for her to slip into a peaceful eternal sleep where she would feel no more pain and her children could mourn a much beloved mother rather than struggle to hold on to a life she sees so point in living? And I immediately felt remorse and a strange pang of guilt for wanting anything less than life for my dear, sweeter than anything fragile friend. She told the nurse I was her best friend ever. She said I looked like an angel hovering over her bed. Will those be the last words I hear from her? I don’t feel like a best friend, I feel like I’ve failed her. I have spent years racking my brain, wondering why I could never find a way to break through, knowing there must be some way I have missed that would have worked.

There is a saying which states if we knew how powerful our thoughts were, we would never think a negative thought again. It is so very true! Yet, our very nature leads us to second guess ourselves, to believe the worst people (who do not know us as well as we know ourselves) say about us and to us! Even worse, heaven help those who pay us a compliment! Too many of us automatically question the motive behind the compliment. Was there sarcasm, did they smirk or smile? Are they setting me up? They couldn’t possibly be sincere. What happened to simply saying: “Thank you.” and smiling graciously? If you relate to this post on either side, I hope you have a friend to talk to who prays for you and listens to you and loves you unconditionally. I have very few people I get to deeply share my life with, and that’s enough for me, hence the introvert part of this blog. If you don’t have someone, I encourage you to find someone you can trust, and if it’s more comfortable to vent to a stranger, feel free to share with me.

Complacency, the dream killer…

I just posted about my dislocated knee and my woe is me demeanor being rocked by someone else’s need for prayer in the midst of tragedy.  Sometimes, I need a little more filler, apparently of what others are going through before I go back to my little world and I was drawn to the story of Zach Sobiech, who passed away last month from cancer, and who left a rich legacy of love and songs of his inner emotions to help his family have multiple connections to him forever.  If you watch his video, “My last days”, the producer comes out and says he wasn’t inspired to do something for Zach because he was dying but, because of how he was living!  In the beginning of the piece, Zach himself says you don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.  What a fantastic view of life!

His songs talk about hope and farewells and acceptance and, his friends and family describe him in a common theme: happy.  Nobody would blame him if he sank into a deep depression, or refused to communicate with anyone ever again.  He chooses to nourish himself and others by living with a purpose and a spark of compassion and love to give others peace and closure.  WOW!  He thanked his brother for giving him knowledge. He thanked his sister for keeping him strong, in his faith.

Who do you inspire?  Maybe it’s your kids or your spouse.  Are you intentional about what memories you are leaving behind?  Do the good memories outweigh those that lack luster because you lost it or were barely coping with whatever was going on that month or day or year?  Who are you missing out on giving words of comfort or love or real emotion to because you assume they will be there forever, even as unrealistic as you know that statement is as soon as you think it in your head.

Vulnerable, honest and, present. Or: “Utopia, possible dream or unattainable myth?”

Wow, at least two of those words aren’t very scary at all for me but, put them all together and expect to be all three verbs as a habit, consistently?  You’re kidding, right?  What if we all were all three things, all the time?  What a novel concept you say?  It would solve a lot of issues before they even started though, wouldn’t it?  Walk with me down the yellow brick road to Utopia, yes I am aware I do mix metaphors all the time.  

In this simpler but no less genuine world, you would get exactly the information you wanted without having to worry about hidden meanings, double entendres and having to psychoanalyze the motivation of whomever is speaking.  Imagine a world where everything is exactly as it is seen, no one has a hidden agenda, barter still exists and nobody feels the need to take advantage of anyone else.  Greed becomes a thing of the past since money means nothing, as it is demoted to simply the worth of the paper it is printed upon.  

Harmony becomes the ultimate goal, not to climb higher and faster than the one who has the same skills and sense of urgency as you do.  Ultimately, were it not for the insane level of competition, you could accomplish even more with that person who shares your interests and skills than you do on your own!  Are you scoffing yet?  Thinking I don’t understand competition or the goals it achieves?  All I have to say is years of experience in both retail and hotel management more than qualify me to comment.  Stay with me…

Communication breakdown becomes complete as people put down their phones and tablets, laptops and “i”anythings.  Accessibility becomes a choice and ceases to be a “have to”.  Eye contact increases, and true connection becomes the norm.  Phones become dumber since the steep decline of the previous demand for apps, people become smarter as they start remembering numbers in their heads and consult physical maps, which they then actually learn to fold back the right way again!  Meetings for success of the inhabitants of this planet as a whole are conducted with no surveillance or security because nobody is in danger.  Meetings are scheduled in person to connect and build relationship to further a peace and contentment for all, not wealth and false temporary happiness for a few. This does not mean there are no arguments or professional disagreements, perhaps even volatile at times, which seems to get the creative juices going for some people.  It simply means the end result is the peaceful resolution of respecting others contributions.

I do not wish for a dumbing down of where we are now, simply a raised awareness of how stunted our emotional growth has become because of our tether to technology and medicines and “sophistication”.  I am also not oblivious to the fact I am writing this on an electronic posting which reaches across the world.  I don’t wish for an end to our sophistication, just a reawakening to the simplicity it was meant to facilitate, for a revival of the human connection.  The cerebral wandering I post here is an attempt at making that human connection through the written word.  Even the written word is an art form which seems to be dwindling to extinction through purposeful abbreviations and absentminded misspellings all in the name of saving time and being more efficient.  I am not a monosyllabic person!  What part of this appeals to you?  Do you have faith any of this can happen? Can you make even a small part of this real in your world?  How can you be vulnerable, honest and present this week? Pardon me while I proofread this whole post at least twice.Image