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

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!

A preponderance of thoughts…

A busy mind is a terrible thing to waste.mind maze

Ever have those days where your head is so full of various thoughts, words, emotions, that you just don’t know where to start to put it down… Just as you think you have a clear direction on one topic, something else grabs your ears, and yells “Pay attention to me!!” So off you go – putting oil on the proverbial squeaky wheel, until you lost the immediacy and original passion for the first idea, but not entirely, so it sits there, percolating, simmering until a new perspective on that idea bursts and drags your mind to muddle that through.

There and back again… 

Back and forth, hither and thither, up and down – my imagination has wandered to the reformation, before creation, and into the light of eternity this week. From Germany, Narnia, New York, Jerusalem and the golden streets of the heavenly realms. Theology, dogma, the doctrines of sacrificial love, preparing for coming crises, the acceleration of change in our culture…

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

Thoughts can be so elusive sometimes.  Is it possible to pull the ephemeral from the air and make it something physical, the solidity of black and white words?  If the possibility exists, tell me, will someone else understand it?  For what good is it to put the thoughts out there, to tell the message, if no one can comprehend what is being said?

In the stillness… 

In quiet and tranquility , if we wait long enough, and ponder a thought sufficiently, it will eventually settle. It will solidify, and clarify.  Thoughts must be sifted out of fiction, filtered through experience, and tried by the fire of truth before being declared in the public forums. Once processed, a true thought will come out, understood by the soul, heart, and mind, transparent not only to oneself but also by the audience.

 

So, I will continue to wrestle my focus between a variety of thoughts, ideas and concepts – noodle them through, and once I understand my perspective on the ideas, I will share them – or not, if they should happen to fail the tests of truth and time.

The landscape has changed

barren landscapeLife is a journey.

Have you ever been on a long road trip, taken a nap while another person was driving, and you were totally disoriented when you woke up because the landscape around you had changed and you were now in unfamiliar territory?

When this happens in life what do you do?  Suddenly, the future before you has changed.  You’re not sure what to do.  What had seemed a certainty is now gone, instead of a few possible choices, anything is a possibility. While choice is great, too many choices are overwhelming.

Having a game-plan doesn’t ensure success.

Personally, I’m the type who prefers to always have a game-plan, and usually with a few back-up plans just in case Plan A falls apart.  Unfortunately, sometimes my plans turn into an epic fail.  And even though I’ve said I’d rather take the risk to either succeed spectacularly or fail epically, its really no fun to feel like you’ve failed.  Success is always preferred.

Right now my heart hurts, my brain is on overload, and my emotions are all over the map.  How do I make sense of this? Where is God in all of this?  Did I miss something? Where did I go wrong? Is my judgement really that off? How could I have possibly messed this up so badly? Can I really trust myself again? These are the thoughts that plague me in the quietness of the night hours. Nothing makes sense to me anymore. Even listening to my iTunes can be dangerous if the wrong song plays in the shuffle.

What’s a girl to do?

“Be still and know that I am God.” Still.  Do I know how to be still?  Not very well.  In fact out culture pretty much shuns stillness.  Between books, internet and social media, television, movies, smartphones, and tablet devices we have an multitude variety of things to keep our minds and brains so entertained that we forget how to be still and just listen.  Sometimes we’re afraid of our own thoughts – but are those really what we need to be listening to?  I’ve heard it said that to get to true stillness we need to:

Quiet our actions so we can hear our voice

Quiet our voice so we can hear our thoughts

Quiet our thoughts so we can hear our breathing

Quiet our breathing so we can hear our heartbeat

Quiet our heartbeat so we can hear our soul

Quiet our soul so we can hear the Voice of God (paraphrased)

The landscape has changed.

So, here in this new place, which seems so barren, I’m allowing myself to be still. To be okay with being in the ‘in-between’.  And  while I’m being still and quiet He will heal me and then He will whisper to me which way I’m supposed to go.

I’m okay with that.

if its scary quote

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 🙂