Twoo Wuv?

image credit: rankopedia.com

Just what does it mean to truly love someone? Many may say its ‘preferring the needs of the other person over yourself’. Being in a new relationship we’re beginning to learn the delicate steps of the dance. “Where do you want to go?” He steps forward.  “I don’t know, what do you like?” I step back. “Which style of music do you prefer?” He turns to the right. “My tastes are eclectic, though lyrics are important, so I like to be able to understand the words.” I follow through the spin.

Inevitably we will stumble.  Someone’s toes will get stepped on, misunderstood cues will lead to us going in different directions.  How do you solve the problem?  Do you give up on the dance and find another partner, or do you come back to center, where it makes sense and begin again – offering grace, each honestly owning up to their mistakes, and then laughing together at the awkwardness.

I read the following in a friend’s Facebook status recently, and have pondered it since:

“Preferring one another is more than yielding your opinion to another. Use your platform to bring honor, dignity, and promotion to others even at the risk of seeing them surpass your influence with those around you”

If I use this as my compass for preferring my significant other, what does that look like?  He offers me networking contacts to help me in my job;  I bring him coffee and sing his praises to his boss.  I get to church early to help him with setting up the sound equipment; he introduces me to a whole new church family and expands my personal territory for ministry opportunities. This all makes sense and can initially seem easy for romantic relationships, but what does it mean outside of that sphere?  How do I truly love and prefer my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. What about the guy on the corner holding the cardboard sign?  What does it look like to really prefer them?

Our society so loudly proclaims “Its all about you.” “Do it your way.” And it is SO easy to fall into the trap, to become self-aware and absorbed into vainglory and personal achievement.  I ask myself, what society do I really belong to?  Is it this culture or the Kingdom of God? “A humble and contrite heart He will not despise.” vs. Look out for numero uno.  “Turn the other cheek.” vs. Stand up for your rights. “Be the servant of all.” vs. Serve yourself.

“Wuv. Twoo wuv.” As Wesley always told Buttercup when she asked for something “As you wish…” even to throwing himself tumbling bottom over top down the hill, we need to learn how to truly love our God, our families, and our friends.  And even more importantly the marginalized, the out cast, and the broken.  When we can offer a hand up instead of pitying handouts and use our influence and platforms to propel them into something greater, I think we will begin to glimpse a measure of what Kingdom living and purpose is really supposed to be, to experiencing true love.

The Crux of the matter is… The Heart

I’m just barely getting this in on time… its the last day of the month.  February almost went by without a post. UGH.  I feel like I should have done better, done more, and yet if I look back at what I have accomplished this month, its nothing to sneeze at.  In the last six weeks I have:

  • moved to a new town
  • set up house in my new apartment
  • started a new job
  • organized two fairly sizable events for said job
  • joined a weekly tweetchat to help organizations get social media exposure
  • agreed to be on the board for a new not-for-profit
  • found a local Jesus community
  • re-connected with old friends
  • started meeting new people… and
  • most recently I’ve started a new business endeavor with Pampered Chef.

Whew – ok, I’m not the slacker my inner “Do-More” tells me I am.

photo credit

So why do I still have that inner diatribe yelling at me?  What is it that isn’t satisfied? Because in all that busy-ness I wonder if I really am making a difference.  February is Heart-health awareness month – especially for women.  Fitting seeing as the middle of the month is Valentine’s Day and its practically decorated to the hilt with hearts.  And all of this leads to my introspection of my emotional heart health… Why do we do what we do?  What is this thing that drives us?  I believe it’s because we want to see a better world around us.

This shows up every week in the tweetchat.  We worked with an 11 year old girl who wanted to give soldiers a piece of home to show them that we appreciate their sacrifices.  Who knew it would blow up into a viral social media showdown, but her point was always the same.  To honor those who sacrifice for our freedom.  That’s the heart.

Health issues be it for women, those reconciling with scars from treatments, the late-term effects from cancer treatments, or Alzheimer’s and dementia are filling the twitter feed. Why do people care about it? Because it has impacted them and trying to help people either avoid unnecessary trauma (emotional, mental, or physical) is the goal.  To help and give support and encourage. That’s the heart.

Did you know that a real feminist is a wonderful person to be around?  She acknowledges the right of every woman to make her own choices – and we don’t all have to look the same.  Whether you choose to work or stay at home with your kids or to not have children at all.  We are not better than men, men are not better than women.  True equality is in acknowledge and celebrating differences rather than being defensive about them and tearing down others.  Why is this important? Because as the quote says, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.  And I believe that if that is true, then logically  acceptance of one’s identity in Christ is the source of joy. To know, believe in, and own your true identity.  That’s the heart.

Unless we truly know our heart behind all the things we “do” we will continue being redundant, and run in circles like the proverbial rodent in a wheel, always busy but never accomplishing anything.  A recent twitter follower, when questioned about why he chose to follow referred to my bio and said “I think it was the wanna be world changer – I think the world can be changed, but it takes focus”  And he’s right.  It DOES take focus, knowing the heart.

What is the heart behind your actions? I hope you take some time to know your heart today.

Jail break!

unleash bannerI’ve written before about my desire to live ‘out loud’ and my refusal to have a ‘beige life’. (If you’re new to the blog, you can read that here, and here).  And those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter have probably seen my recent posts about Perry Noble’s new book “Unleash!” I have to say, I really love that the subtitle is ‘Breaking Free from Normalcy” – because as we all know, as the sage of Americana Erma Bombeck said “Normal is just a setting on the dryer”.

I’m a huge reader, and I like to mark-up my books so I can go back to those passages that stood out to me. Thus, my e-book is now full of highlighted passages like

“The unleashing of our lives begins when we refuse to believe it’s too late for us, when we reject the idea that we’re too damaged for God to do anything with, when we stop being obsessed with ourselves… “Who is the Lord, and what does He want to do through me?”*

and “Believing that lie held me hostage to what can be one of the most damaging enemies of the unleashed life: religion… In doing so, I ceased to live for the things that really matter to God and began to hyper-focus on the things that mattered to me!”*

My high school English teachers were big on instructing us to find themes in books. In reading through Unleash!, there was a theme that kept resounding like an unrelenting klaxon – we live in the prisons of our own making yet Christ came to set us free.  The door isopen cell door unlocked, we just have to try the handle and walk out!   WHY do we stay inside, peering through the window, feeling left out, alone and abandoned, resigned to the vanilla-ness of it all?  Now don’t get me wrong, I love vanilla, but I like it best when its dressed up a bit with some chocolate! We accept the bland, boring and banality of a less-than life, when God promises us abundance, a veritable hot-fudge banana split.  Why do we keep pushing it away?

Perry points out several reasons. The performance trap, trauma and tragedy from our past, unforgiveness, and our passivity to take the next step caused by both fear and disobedience.  Written like that, it can seem like the usual trite religious tirade of “Try harder, do more”.  However, I agree with Perry that though we can point out these issues, we cannot handle them on our own and its impossible to gain victory in any of these areas until we learn the limitless unleashing grace of God.

“God wants good things for you. That’s what He wants for all His children. He wants us to experience the life, joy, and peace found in Christ— everything that comes with living an unleashed life.”* 

I’ve got more reading and thinking to do. Between Unleash! and the Bonhoeffer biography, my head is swimming with things that are challenging my status quo. That’s a good thing, because that’ll help keep things interesting.  I don’t want to stay inside when all I have to do is just turn the knob.**

*All noted passages from Noble, Perry (2012-09-20). Unleash! Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition. Want your own copy? Go to unleashbook.com/buy

**for a fun illustration about just opening the door, you can listen to Pastor Craig Groeshel’s message “Soul Detox part 2” on the Elevation Church podcast

The Quotables

and I quoteAs I said last week, I’m very much influenced by words.  So I thought this week, I’d share a few wise words that have impacted me at different times in my life.  Rather than tell you what they meant to me, I want you to read them , ponder them, allow them to roll around in your brain until they mean something to you. (Where possible I’ve given at least a digital source”

“I just want to be a nobody that tells everybody that there is somebody who can save anybody” ~ Melvin Graham (Billy Graham’s brother) via @TellaGraham

“I am immortal until God’s work for me to do is done. The Lord reigns.” ~ Henry Martin   Via Perry Noble

“Every happening – great and small – is a parable whereby God speaks to us and the art of life is to get the message.” ~ Malcolm Muggeridge

quote bubble

“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” – George Iles

“But the whole time we’re knocking ourselves out finishing everything on our religious to-do list, God sits back and weeps because we’re so intent upon doing “godly” things instead of becoming “godly” people.” ~ George Barna via “Maximum Faith”

“God did not create you to frustrate you” ~ Susan Odero

“Never let your awareness of the world be greater than your knowledge of the Kingdom of God” ~ Justin Kendrick

“If you want to cross the ocean, you have to be willing to lose sight of the shore” attributed to Christopher Columbus

“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.” ~ Wangari Maathai

“With great power, comes great responsibility” Uncle Ben Parker – SpiderMan

Do you have a personal mantra? A quote that has spurred you on?  Please share in the comments 🙂

to boldly go…

scrabble tile wordsI love words.  I like to make them dance to my own tune – to use them like a painter uses colors and shapes to evoke an emotion and response.  So, when God drops a particular phrase in my heart, I like to turn it over and around in my mind like a sommelier does with a new wine.  My current phrase of choice? “Bold intimacy”

I like it because its almost an oxymoron.  How can something bold still hold the quietness of intimacy? Usually we associate boldness with being arrogant and brash, not the sweet stillness of close relationships.  Yet it works, because God calls us to be bold enough to demand intimacy with Him. We were made for intimacy with God. It is His desire to be in relationship with us. Yet, that intimacy takes bold faith on our part.

I recently read the episode in Exodus of Moses deciding to pursue God even when everyone else decided to remain behind.  God wanted the same relationship with all of the people, but only Moses was willing to be bold enough to approach the darkness of the cloud, to push through what could be scary in order to gain what he knew God desired for him.  Just one thing separated him from the crowd. The opportunity to be with God propelled him forward whilst everyone else stayed back. Moses was so desperate for God, that he refused to allow the fear of the situation to keep him from God’s presence.

Yet so many of us, myself totally included, struggle to accept that God desires intimacy with us.  We act like the Israelites and prefer to have someone else hear from God for us.  Why? What is it that we’re so afraid of?  My opinion is that we’re afraid of a love that demands nothing and everything from us at the same time.  We have been so let down by the world around us in our pasts that we can’t believe that God is different from that.  We forget that God speaks our individual love language to each one of us – whether it be time, touch, gifts, service, or words.  And the few times we hear & accept that love, we get overwhelmed by it and it scares us; which it should, because it demands a response.  And we don’t know how to love unconditionally, or how to accept it.

Yet, if we are willing to push past the awkwardness, we’ll get to see His glory and learn how to both receive and give His kind of unconditional love. Now, isn’t that worth it?

this heart is for you

 

Story Telling

live remarkably

The last few months I’ve been learning about ‘story’ as a concept in life.  We all have a story to tell, we are individual stories being told, and we are each characters in a collective tale that we will only understand in the light of eternity and our eyes are opened to how our roles made a difference to the outcome of ultimate story.

Each day is a blank page before us.  We cannot edit yesterday’s paragraphs, we only have the merest semblance of control over today’s chapter with our choices and influence tomorrow’s.  Our choices, from the major to the mundane all affect our story, will it be dry and tasteless, or will it be challenging and interesting to the reader?

I know I personally prefer stories that keep me on the edge of my seat, impatiently turning each page as I anticipate what will happen to the character and involve myself in the narrative.  As I finish a book, I enjoy the feeling of missing the characters because I’ve allowed myself to be influenced by them, to experience their joys and sorrows, heartaches and hallelujahs.

story worth telling

As God is writing our story, because of the free will He has given us, we are presented with choices. We can choose to stay safe in our familiar settings and locations where things are predictable and known, or we can choose to have faith, trusting He will be there when we step out into what some may label as risky behavior.  Personally, I want to be able to have enough faith to choose the other path.  I cannot predict how it will turn out, I may succeed spectacularly or fail epically – either way, its a more compelling story.

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone… not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  2 Corinthians 3:2-3 As soon as you step out of your door each day, your life is being read by everyone around you – what are you doing to make sure its one worth reading?Dr. Seuss Lorax quote

Being grateful

Its raining again, I could complain about the mud, cold and inconvenience caused by the rain, but I won’t.  Instead I will be grateful and pray that it rains in areas other than Nairobi so that there will be abundant food crops and water to drink.

I’ve lost weight.  Instead of complaining about the fact that my clothes are too big, or that I have to deal with the hassle of taking them to the tailor to be reduced, I will appreciate the fact that I can afford to do it, and that I have clothes.

water bottle sandals

photo courtesy of Facebook

Take a look at social media and you’ll find many people counting down the days, or using the alphabet to share what they are thankful for.  Here in Kenya, there are reminders each and every time I walk out of my door. God’s grace and mercy have placed me where I can feast in the midst of famine, water in the wasteland, plenty amongst poverty.

Yes, we Americans take one day in November to remember to give thanks for the abundant blessings in our lives and this is good.  Yet in the midst of the feast on your table remember not everyone can enjoy what you do.  The news is reporting stories of people in New England still without power because of the early snow, one lady even saying she felt “abandoned.”  I’ll admit I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for her, in fact my reaction was to comment “Stop being selfish & make your life about others.”

Those that are in lack are not just here in Kenya or Africa.  A friend posted a blog about comparing the lines for a homeless shelter vs. a gourmet donut shop.  So this November and the coming holiday season can I encourage you to make your life about others?  You can give your cash – that’s sometimes easier, but I encourage you to give of your time and talent too.  Because just maybe, those that seem to have nothing will give something back to you.