Monday, July 30, 2007

We Can All Shine

My husband and I and our two kids were invited over to my parents' house last night for a cook out. They had invited a gentleman that they had recently befriended. Over delicious corn on the cob from my brother's organic garden, my mom proceeds to tell this man about an episode of mine from my younger days. WHY she wanted to talk about an embarrassing moment of my youth, I don't know! You have to understand- my mom was an entertainer- and once an entertainer, ALWAYS an entertainer. I, on the other hand, was a very quiet child growing up, and that's why my Mom found it fascinating that one day, when I was about twelve, I invited my parents into the living room to hear me sing a song.

"Dim the lights"- I told them, trying to cast a smokey mood- and how I knew that a"smokey" atmosphere is what I needed, I don't know! I sang them a song- I think it was Killing Me Softly, or something romantic like that."What do you think?" I asked, when the song ended. They tried not to laugh at me, then, and "admiring" my vocal presentation they quickly returned to the kitchen to prepare supper.

That was years ago- and I mean years!- but they don't let me forget that I wanted my shot at stardom. But doesn't everybody want a chance to shine? Doesn't everybody want to belt out a song once in a while?

Trust me, I'm done trying to perform for people- but I do still sing for them. I am known for singing out silly lines from songs at my workshops I teach- in order to help women get the message. I'll do anything to convey a message of hope in this somewhat disturbing and delightful world we live in.

"Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful songs. Then the nations said, "The LORD has done spectacular things for them." Psalms 162: 2.

Yes, God really has done spectacular things in my life, and I'm sure in yours too. I think I feel a song coming on!! Get the microphone ready!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vocabulary Victory

I've been telling my seventeen year old that he needs to know what "lugubrious" and "salacious" mean- I have a feeling he'll see them on the SATS he is taking again in October. When I was in high school, I was in Advanced Placement English- and we had twenty vocabulary words a week to memorize. I remember those two words from that time- and I think I even had them on my SAT exam. Lugubrious means mournful, but I couldn't remember what salacious means until I looked it up and found it means lustful or obscene. Yuk. Stay away from anything that is salacious!

But my vocabulary word today is a word that's in my blog address: Champion. It's been on my mind again. Usually people think champion means someone who wins, who is the first place victor. And that's the hard truth- there are situations where there can only be one winner. Why is it that we have to have first place, second place, etc- when it comes to winning?! Can't everyone win?

If you look up the definition of champion in Webster's New World, though, you find that the first definition given is this "One who fights for another or for a cause; defender" and then the second definition listed has to do with being first place winner. Love the order of that!

The verb form of champion is "to fight for, defend, support"- as in "Let me champion your dreams!" And that's what I want to do.There's enough people competing for first place, as though winning at the expense of others feeling lost and last, was okay. It's not.

There are too many people who feel they are without a champion for their dreams. They wish they had a perpetual cheerleader to cheer them on. I can understand that feeling. But remember-
"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong." Eccl. 9:11
The race is for everyone - and run it well- because His eyes are on you, His thoughts are toward you (Jer 29:11) and God's plans are for your good. He is championing your dreams- and they're dreams that HE put in your heart.

So if you need to know just ONE vocabulary word for the week, know what "champion" means-
because you have one, and so do I.

I hear Him calling me onward....right now.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

From a Low Point

Colliding realities. A mom with faith, some fear, and hope; a teenage son with dreams , some disasters, and a communication style unique to him. Sometimes I look at my son and think We're so much a like, how can we not understand each other?

I think it's because often I am speaking to him with all my hopes and dreams for his great future in the back of my mind, but not always on my lips. And often he wants to share frustrations and a point of view that threatens to bring me face to face with my fear that I do more harm than good in my parenting.

It is soooo much easier for me to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart talk with my best friend "Mu"- because I never worry whether she understands me (she does) or whether I've harmed her in our relationship ( I probably have at times- I can ramble on and over analyze- and she survives me somehow!).

I don't expect my son to understand how much I want to be there for him, do right by him- and how I know I will fail. But I'm learning the grace of giving myself grace- because that how successful mothers make it. Successful Mothers Surrender. They give up a lot- and give it all up to God. And then try again. If there's one thing I know I can become good at- it's surrendering. God is giving me plenty of chances to do so. And every time I surrender, I still find out, with relief ....
HE is there.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

From a High Point

Years ago, God impressed on my heart this verse- Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" Is. 40:9

It was a type of call on my life that I heard loud and clear. God was endorsing this: if you've got something good to say, something that will liberate people from fear, then shout it out! And demonstrate the reality that God shows up -even if your knees are shaking. It's as if you're standing up on top of the mountain, yelling out "Don't worry, people! God is with us! He's here!!" and you close your eyes, sweep your arm out, turn your head as you whisper in your soul Oh God, Be there!! -and then open your eyes to see- He IS!!

You don't always have to shout it out to others. I talk to myself ....a lot. It's not in my sleep that I call out stuff- it's in the day light that I do it. I've got to. I've got to charge my soul "Hope in the Lord!" I've got to do my worshipping-dish-towel dance (oh, you'd love to see this!!) and shout out how great God is. I've got to declare to myself, "Behold your God!" And then I turn around and see-

He is there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Dignity. I've seen this word used in describing how someone died- "with dignity" or how someone carried themselves "with dignity". I'm not sure we Christians use this word too often, because it sounds like it leans toward aristocracy or high-brow living or stoic, determined living above pain.

Why am I talking about this word? Sunday afternoon, (remember, my day of rest?!), my husband Bill and I were talking heart to heart, challenging each other with God's admonition to press forward, go onward, go higher. Bill said "The word that comes to me is dignity. I think God wants us to conducts ourselves and think about ourselves with dignity- no matter how we might be tempted to feel about ourselves." We had been chatting about the highs and the lows of our lives, our experiences in ministry and our experiences with challenging situations and people. "I've seen fire and I've seen rain" James Taylor sang, and he was right. Psalm 66 tells us God even LETS people ride over our heads- but that He also brings us out to a place of abundance.

Wikipedia discusses dignity and when I read these words I was struck by the truth of the definition, the application...:

"According to Webster's Dictionary, the word dignity means the quality of being worthy of esteem or honor; worthiness; i.e., the quality of being highly valued....

Society is free when it has free people. People are free when they have learned the truth about themselves, when they carry the truth with dignity, when they are internally free. Internal freedom is freedom from fear to be judged,....freedom from doubts about dignity....Society knows freedom when its people know dignity."

I got thinking about God's Society- His Kingdom people- and the application of the above definition. God's Kingdom should be characterized by dignity and value and freedom. Galatians 5:1 New Life Version tells us Christ made us free. Stay that way. Plain and simple. One way to walk in His freedom is to continually respect the Word of God, respect the Work of God, and respect, specifically, His marvelous work in your life.

My father coached high school and college soccer for 30 years. One of his favorite exclamations that he'd call out when watching his players try to receive the ball and botch up the pass was
"Respect the ball! Respect the ball!" He wanted the players to think higher of their capability to play well, and to look at the soccer ball as being worthy of being passed and kicked in a manner of respect and good execution.

I feel like God is speaking a message of respect and dignity into my life. I can hear the lyrics Aretha Franklin sang "R-E_S_P_E_C_T! Find out what it means to me...." Here's what I hear the Holy Spirit whispering to me "Treat yourself with respect. Walk in Dignity. Walk freely in My path for you. Stay free, and share the message of my marvelous freedom with those who walk with head down, hands limp, eyes clouded with despair."

Hebrews 12:12,13 tells us Therefore, lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees,and make straight paths for your feet, so that which is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

We have all had experiences where our sense of worth and value was not strengthened but rather wounded or dislocated even. How does healing come? A dear new friend of mine, Gabie, advised that God "will give you the strategy and the strength to get out from under." Get out from under what? From any lie that speaks "you have no value, no worth, no future."

May today be a day where the dignity ( "a certain worth or value") of being a beloved child of God rules in our life, our walk, and most of all in our sense of who we are. What is your certain worth or value? Beloved sister or brother, it is in Him and because of Him- and it is exceedingly above what we could ever ask or imagine. And higher than that, even, is His inestimable glory.

Son Shine on My Soul Today, The Worthy Lamb has Made a Way .... for me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sabbath Rest for the Soul

It's Sunday, a day of rest. I've come home from Church, and I consider how I am not at rest about many things in my life: I am not at rest about my son's driving (can I be frank? he's a lousy driver! But he'll get there, I know), I am not at rest about the hopes and dreams I have and the colliding reality which threatens to taunt me daily.

I remember the words of that beautiful hymn-
I am resting, resting, resting,
in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out thy goodness
of thy loving heart

Such sweetness of truth for the soul. I need to rest in HIS goodness, His perspective of my life- of where I've been and where He's taking me.

There is a time to be at rest, because of what you see, in the here and now. And then there's a time of rest for what will be-in His "here and now"- His perspective.
I choose to be at rest today. If I have to augment that truth with an afternoon nap
(good luck to me!) and with a nice juicey session reading a beautiful cook book (this gets my creative juices going) then so be it.

I am finding out the goodness of His loving heart.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Give My Regards

Swimming lessons for my daughter, Abby, every morning; sunshine today and gentle breezes instead of oppressive humidity- this is summer, finally. And I'm hoping it's a summertime for my soul, as well. No more dark nights of the soul. I'm basking in the Son shine, and cultivating the soil for my dreams.

Here's my to do list, today: call Dad and finally do that Father's Day lunch I promised, get my teenage son to attend to all his tasks (including driving school, getting his license, so that I can have my gray hair every time he's out on the road!), pay bills-remembering to thank God that we are able to make a living), decide whether to sell this house and go to work on another fixer-upper. Why not make it move #23 or is it 24? I've lost track on the number of moves we've made. And I will write a book about that someday.

Feeling homesick for North Carolina- remembering our year down there, when we, like Abraham, "went out, not knowing where he was going".

I'm a New Yorker (upstate, upstate!)but I don't like who we are. We're rough and callous and cold, often. I don't want to fall back into those nasty patterns! I want to remember my southern terms, "bless her heart", and "see y'all" and the looks of grace that were so freely given.

Yesterday I met three truck drivers getting out of a moving van that had "Bridgeport, CT" on it. I called out "Hey! I remember Bridgeport! Thats where I was rushed to the hospital once." "How'd it turn out?" they asked. "My baby lived!!" I shouted with a grin. Abby was right next to me- my miracle baby.

"Give my regards to Bridgeport!" I shouted as they walked away with a smile.

Give my regards to anyone who's been kind and caring in this often dark world.

Monday, July 09, 2007

"Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will ease your mind...." That has to be one of my favorite lines in one of my favorite songs of all time. "I will ease your mind"- oh, how the world is looking for someone who can do that for them- Someone who can settle our frantic thinking, Someone who can take the pondering and wrestling of an anxious mind and with one word- "peace!" make that mind still and quiet.

I know that Someone who can ease your mind. Though I just came back from a mini vacation at the beach, and had glorious moments of refreshment and repose and sun overhead and bad memories behind me,still- no one can ease my mind- nothing can ease my mind- like Jesus.

He speaks- peace!- and I am on the beach of repose, basking under skies of eternal grace and favor.

Peace to you today.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

One of my favorite phone calls of the day is when my local library calls me to tell me a book I've requested has come in. To me, when I hear that, I almost hear the words "Your ship has come in!" Why? Because every time I open a book, and read someone's story, someone's account of something, or their struggle to overcome an area of their life ( a self-help book), I feel blessed that I get to learn, or profit, from their experiences.

When someone writes a candid account of an ordeal they went through, and how they felt, what they prayed, and then I find out at the end of the book what treasure of truth they gleaned from that experience, I feel like the wealthiest woman in the world. Someone shared something with me that cost them something- and I get to learn from it if I will be open to the message, open to the lesson.

That's why I love the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. Especially, the book of Ecclesiastes. I get to hear lessons learned from a king's perspective- golden lessons, sparkling nuggets of wisdom encrusted with enduring application.

Now I'm going to pack for a couple days at the beach, and aprt from clean underwear and a bathing suit, you know what I'm going to make sure is at the top of my suitcase: books, books, books.

My ship has come in.