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.

A Monkey’s Meditation

I’ve been staying with relatives the last three weeks as I help sort through my grandmother’s remaining possessions that were in storage whilst she was in the nursing home after her stroke.  By times its been just sorting & tossing, while other times tears have coursed down my cheeks as I dawdle down memory lane and wish I could have more time.

Most of the things that have triggered weepy moments, have been things that she wrote or cut out of a magazine, or something we read together – words.  Words are powerful, they are able to go around the world and convey images and experiences so that we can all share them.

Here’s one poem that she saved in a bible, that made me laugh, and think – all at the same time.

 

A Monkey’s Meditationmonkey not listening

A monkey musing in his cage

Upon the progress of the age,

Half-whispered as I happened by,

“This evolution is a lie.”

 

Surprised to hear him speak so plain.

I paused profounder truths to gain.

Unconscious I was there to heed,

He thus continues with his creed:

 

“For mortal man to try to trace

Descent from our illustrious race

Is rank injustice to our clan,

The monkey much surpasses man.

 

“In bloody wars, men butcher men;

They slander both with tongue and pen.

They cheat, they lie, they swear, they steal;

And wild with wine, they rock and reel.

 

“They trample justice in the dust;

They loll in luxury and lust.

Their men, their women  young and old.

They sell their very lives for gold,

 

“They laugh at law, they twist their truth,

They crucify the dreams of youth.

Their hearts are hard as solid stone,

They worship God with lips alone.

 

“Man thus has left a trail of crime,

Too foul to sanctify with time.

The record of the human race

Brings flaming blushes to my face.

 

“The monkey leads the simple life,

Is loyal to his wedded wife.

No lady monkey yet, of course,

Has ever sought or won divorce!

 

“The monkey home is still serene,

The father, king; the mother, queen.

The little monkeys, too, obey

Their parents in the good old way

 

“We have no haunts of sin and shame.

No racketeers our ranks defame.

Our record stands an open book

At which the world has leave to look.

 

“No self-respecting monkey can

Admit himself akin to man.

According to the Word from on High

This evolution is a lie.”

~ D.E. Guyton

 

From a tract published by Osterhus Pub. House

4500 W. Broadway

Minneapolis, MN

Life matters…

Our relationship with this world is a strange paradox. The same can be said for our relationship with social media.  It can bring friends from around the world into one place – as small as the palm of your hand. Sharing stories, major life events, participating with peers in all of the up and downs that life dishes out. Celebrating the victories with a retweet or like, bemoaning a crisis through a comment.  We have distilled life into bite-sized pieces of 140 characters or less.

distorted magnified imageYet, the frailties of our humanity are magnified. A headline from the Toronto Star on Saturday decried “Death by Social Media.” As a social media person, I read these stories with an avid interest, searching my own motives and agendas about being online.  This, unfortunately, is not the first tragedy of its kind.  A friend recently posted about a similar situation on his blog, reminding us that we need to remember to humanize our social media.

Every post is a person.  Behind those avatars, profile pictures, and cover shots is a real live breathing human person with a soul and a story.  Each post, tweet, blog, and instagram is the reflection of a moment of life. And every life matters.  They matter to God, and as a Christian, they should matter to me.  Whether it is a life barely begun in the womb of a woman, a life that is malnourished because of poverty, one that is at risk of being trafficked as a slave or sex-object, or one that just somehow fell through the cracks of nets that government and society have set up – they are important.

God sees them. Even if we don’t.  He invites us to participate in His Kingdom by “hollowing out a great space in the hearts of those who will risk this loving and compassionate life-style.”  To extravagantly love others is to risk hurt, rejection, and pain. To experience the sufferings of Christ. As I search myself, I hope I find a soul hollowed out to be filled with love, rather than one fits “the world’s mold that will leave us misshapen in our souls.”

**italicized quotes from “Tent Revival Homecoming” presented by Bill Gaither © 2011

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

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

 

the Whys among us

cassette age test

picture via Pinterest & TheChive

Do you realize just how quickly the world around us is changing?  It was brought to my attention as I was online and saw a picture of a cassette tape & a pen.  Do you know how those two things are related?  I do!  Too many episodes of spooling the tape back into the cassette for me… Yet, I’m pretty sure my younger brother has no idea.

Music formats are just the tip of the iceberg.  I can remember when the internet was new (I was in high school).  Now, we’re on the cutting edge of technology – The era of the ‘zettabyte’ is forecasted to be here in just three years according to this infographic.  Wow, how far and how fast we have come.

As the communications liaison (one of my several hats) for DOVE Africa, its my job to be ‘on top of’ this stuff.  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Buffer, HootSuite, the blogosphere… have all become part of my daily lexicon; all in the effort to stay connected to the world around me.  Yet I have to wonder, am I really engaging the world or am I just adding to the ‘noise’ around me?

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” I Cor 13:1 I realize that even in all I do, I must offer the truth of the love that compels me to action.  Its all about the “Why” of my story.

Why did I think that news article was important to share?  Why did I write that blogpost? Why is that picture worth posting?  When we connect in social media it should be about the reason for engaging, not just the content.  I’m called to be a thought leader and a witness to what I believe.

The world is changing and we must respond to that, yet we cannot sacrifice the truth of His unchanging message of grace and forgiveness on the altar of relevance.  Just like money is a tool used to expand the Kingdom of God, so too is social media.  It is simply a tool.  However, also like money let us not love social media for itself, or we may have paid too high a price.