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.

Boston and the not-so-goodness of man

As the sun broke the horizon Sunday morning, I was driving east on I-90 toward the Riverside MBTA station.  I stood on the platform with legging-clad runners, their bright sneakers and pinned numbers a stark contrast to the stained rough concrete.  As we sat next to each other they discussed techniques for training and recovery, their plans for the BIG race the next day.  Wrapped up in my world, I was previously oblivious to the fact that it was marathon weekend.  Quietly I listened to them and compared my plans for the day.  I was going into Boston to volunteer at a convention, to be inside the entire day, talking, smelling, tasting coffee.  Sales and marketing, foamed milk and water pressure.  It was about the fun of combining a little work with something I love.

36 hours my attention would be drawn back to Boston.  Smoke, blasts, shattered glass and buildings.  What is the truth? What happened?  Who do I know that may be affected? Are the people I love safe?  Collectively we were all asking those questions.  There weren’t always good answers.  Lives will now be defined by that instant. Before and after.

Embracing my role as a social media manager to make sure that we put out correct information, and weeded out erroneous stories, I stopped personally processing.  It was business – get the word out, pass on the information, help others make sense, stop the scheduled info and focus on the moment.  Watching Twitter and Facebook feeds, listening to live news reports, my existence was entirely about being online.

Today is different.  The immediacy has passed.  News agencies have been briefed and are more aware of the situation.  Social Media and Community managers have, for the most part, gone on to their regularly scheduled programs, of course adding in the apropos informative links and blog posts regarding the incident.  And I’m stuck.

Downside to being a single, I don’t have anyone at home with whom I can verbally wrestle through an issue.  So dear readers, blurkers, and others it spills out to you.  So many times yesterday I saw memes, tweets, and quotes talking about the ‘good in humanity.’  I have a problem with that.  You see, humankind is not inherently good.  In fact left to our own devices we can be extremely cruel and evil.  Without the redemptive work of faith in our lives, and employing God’s gift of self-control so we can choose to do the right thing, we would be lost.

We ask “How could God let this happen?” while in the same breath we say “I want it my way”.  These thoughts cannot co-exist.  Either we want free will, which includes the choice to do evil, or we want a dictatorship with the Creator calling the shots.  It is not possible to bake the proverbial cake while consuming it.

As a loving God, He allows us to choose.  Being a righteous God, He requires consequences for those choices.  Graciously and mercifully He has provided a way to be excused from the judgement for the choices we make in our moments, but we accept that gift and the parameters that He gives with it – do to others what you would have them do to you; turn the other cheek; make disciples; read the Word and do what it says; love Him above all; live out that love towards those that hate you… (cf Matthew 5-7, 22: 37-39, 28:19-10 NLT)

I will never be able to understand why someone chose to carry out a terrorist attack yesterday.  I applaud the choices of the first responders who chose to run toward danger to save lives.  I grieve with those who must face the repercussions of one person’s actions and now must put lives back together with missing pieces.  And I pray to God that somehow we would all choose to look to Him to gain a measure of peace in the middle of a chaotic world.  To choose to live according to the prescription He has given to live a life that honors Him and serves others.

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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.

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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 tribute…

I had the amazing opportunity to be able to share some thoughts at my grandmothers funeral service today.  I consider myself to blessed, honored, and privileged to be able to call myself the granddaughter of Doris Marie Gurley… Because I believe what she stood for is lacking in our world today, I’ve decided to post my thoughts here for all of you.  If we continue to celebrate these positive attributes, then we can help to make sure another generation will know what it means to truly live out the servant-Christian life. Thank you Gramma for being my example and mentor, for your life well lived.

“There will be several themes that you will hear repeated today regarding Gramma’s life – she was a lady, her caring nature, her love of music.  Music was a large part of her life – even from when she was a child and she passed that down to us.  In fact, I don’t think, if asked, that I could pick just one song that says “Gramma” to me.

Going back to my childhood, there was nothing like arriving at 20 Graydon Hall Dr – and looking up from the parking lot and seeing Gramma waving from her balcony on the 8th floor.  Then it was the elevator ride up, and then running pell-mell down the hall where she was waiting arms open wide for hugs.  Ask any of her grandchildren or great-grands and I’m sure they’ll agree that there is nothing like a hug from Gramma, tight, one-armed while she held her glasses off to the side. My memories flit from sitting in the rocking chair listening to her sing “You Are My Sunshine” or “I love you, a bushel and a peck” to singing silly songs, like “Mairzy Doats” or “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea” while doing dishes. Yes, I do believe Gramma could have given Larry the Cucumber a run for his money when it comes to singing silly songs.

Many of you will share my memories of the singing with Sister Moore & her accordion before Sunday School classes.  There was “the woo song” which to this day I cannot remember the real title of or “My God is So Big”, “It’s Bubbling”, “1,2,3 Jesus Loves Me” and her original song on the fruits of the spirit – “Love brings the Joybells”.  As my first Sunday School teacher, she had a very big impact on what I first remember about Jesus.  Its those songs I go to now when I’m teaching children, or trying to make sure I recall all 9 fruits of the Spirit.

As I got older, there was a greater influence of the harmonies of the hymns and southern gospel songs that truly spoke to what mattered most to Gramma – Jesus and His people.  I’m sure there are people here today who have fond recollections of the trio singing at various church services and functions.  “Gentle Shepherd”, “Sweeter”, “Step Into the Water”, “Wherever I am” … these songs indelibly wrote upon my heart and soul the truth of the gospel and who Jesus is.  These are the songs that play in my heart when I’m wrestling through something, listening to a message, or during prayer.

I cannot separate Gramma from music, anymore than I can separate her from myself.  In fact it is during these difficult days that the songs carry me through the hurt and pain of loss.   I am grateful for the lessons I learned at my grandmother’s knee.  I am thankful for the legacy that she has left behind.  Because of her influence, I’ve learned to love Jesus, His people, and have a sense of style while doing it. Thank you Gramma for helping me learn that no matter what – “Jesus Loves Me”.”

Gramma & Miss Em

Gramma & her youngest great-grandchild (2009)

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

Not Fair!

“No fair! No fair! No fair!” my inner crimson-cheeked, tear-stained inner preschool wails and throws a fit. “This isn’t FAIR!”

And the truth is – it isn’t fair that plans get cancelled and dreams don’t always come true.  It’s not fair that I’m no longer planning a wedding, pinning my dreams on Pinterest, preparing for a marriage and family.  It’s not fair – but it is life.

Life is not fair as our mothers oft told us in our younger days.  It is not fair, balanced, and organized.  Rather, I believe instead, it is more like managed chaos with moments of crises and excitement thrown in just to keep it interesting.  So I can either choose to sulk and pout and pitch a fit about the unfairness of it all OR I can suck it up, put on my big girl pants, and look for the new opportunities that are in front of me now.

It is never too late to start over as my friends The Afters keep blaring in my earbuds.  Consequently I will – even at the old advanced mature age of 35. The possibilities before me are quite varied – and hard to believe – God trusts me to hear Him and choose.

SO – anyone want to hire a 35 year old administrative, organizational aspiring writer who likes to travel, enjoys new experiences, and wants to make a difference in the world?

Seriously – if you know of something, email me.  Thanks!

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

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“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 🙂