Saturday, January 31, 2009

Add to the Beauty Yes...this is the title of another song by Sara Groves (I'm definitely stuck on her these days). I would say this is the last in my series of posts on songs, but I'm sure I'll sneak some others in at a later time. When it seems life is dull, dark and otherwise dim, I am often surprised at the beauty that suddenly surrounds me when I look outside. This week has been a complete disaster rife with late nights at work, cranky kids, and more work until the wee hours. Now that it is Friday I just felt like a kid about to to go on summer vacation leaving work today (earlier than I have in probably the last month). (Side note: I'm not sure how I could consider summer vacation today considering the fact that the average temperature today was about 20 degrees and there is about 2 feet of snow on the ground and has been for the past 3 weeks or so, but I digress.) As I entered the rat race (aka I-275 South) I looked to the west and 1. was surprised that it was still light at 5:30pm in January and 2. squinted from the hazy colors in my view. Could it be - the sun??? Yes, indeed - one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've experienced in a long time. Orange, yellow, and red watercolors swirling around that fiery ball. "Whew hew!" is all I could think. In the midst of all of the chaos this week I've been pondering what I'm adding to the legacy of this physical experience of living. In the words of the song that inspired this post - "I want to add to the beauty, to tell a better story... I want to shine with the light, that's burning up inside." That light that brightened my afternoon - a gift from God - reminds me that the light we hold inside is what lasts through these dark days. "It comes in small inspirations It brings redemption to life and work To our lives and our work It comes in loving community It comes in helping a soul find it's worth. Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out the best of who we are." That idea of redemption of our lives and work - thank God for that! I need redemption everywhere these days and here is where I ask you...what is the best of who you are? The best of who you are is the way you love, care, nurture, hold, honor, respect, serve, and pray for people. But most of all - it is the beauty of your true self that seeks to love others at all costs and in all circumstances. "We come with beautiful secrets We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls We come to every new morning With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold" Hold onto the beauty my friends - He is holding onto you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Unbalanced That is the best word to describe my life right now and it is darn painful. The stress of learning this new position at work - attempting to find the rhythm and balance between work and home, the different schedule, understanding the authority and commitment to my two lives - it is excruciating. When I'm at work, it's like I don't have any other life. I guess that is how my mind chooses to compartmentalize it. I focus on the needs of my team - I'm always thinking to myself - am I serving them the best way possible? Am I ensuring that someday they will be independent and I'm there to run interference only? That is definitely the goal. The everyday annoyances get in my way - email that doesn't quit, meetings for hours and hours, nitpicking and infighting - or maybe just misunderstandings. I feel joy at their successes, I feel pain when they fail. It is as if they are my children away from home (although they are not child-like in anyway). I care for them and want them to be independent and confident. Home is always a mix of schedules that don't seem to fall where they should, overtired children, overflowing baskets of laundry and counter tops full of dishes. (Did I mention perpetual crumbs on the floor?) The changes are taking a toll - Jerry is tired and at his wits end at the end of the day (I felt that way almost everyday I spent at home with the kids also). He has taken on more than his share of the work and he does not complain - almost to the point that I can feel his pain without him even telling me. I break down, we clear the air. I recommit to my side of the work at whatever cost to keep the balance that we need. It reminds me of another favorite song (and you thought I had veered away from my song theme, eh?) Sara Groves again - "When it Was Over" from the "Add to the Beauty" CD. In this song it is a hidden line buried in a verse that touches me to the core - "There is a hope that whispers a vow, a promise to stay while we're working it out." I'm so grateful that Jerry whispered that vow - that he has promised to stay while I'm working this out. I would never have expected anything less, but I needed that confirmation in the middle of my breakdown. But isn't that how life is anyway? We are always trying to work things out - our lives are always a piece of artwork in progress. We don't really understand what the medium is we are using or what the colors are, but maybe we get a glimpse of that pure love or purpose that God has given us in the hug of a friend, the sincerity of a compliment, the discussion of the spiritual realm. The song's main chorus - "Love wash over a multitude of things, make us whole" reminds us that only love can make us whole. We get a glimpse of that in the love of family, friends, and our spouses. Someday that wholeness - that perfect love of God will be truly known to us. In the meantime, we remain unbalanced and live our days working it out with the promise of that vow - that he is always with us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Look for the Holy In the Common Place Well, it appears a theme is emerging for my posts as of late. Something like-I-have-been-severely-music-deprived-and-have-been-listening-to-my-favorite-Cd's-like-crazy-on-the-commute-and-have-somehow-reconnected-with-the-deeper-side-of-my-soul. Or in short, quotes from songs I love. The title of this post is from a Sara Groves song called "Just Showed Up for My Own Life" from "Add to the Beauty". Now the title of the song alone could be a post, but I'll just stick to this line stuck in the middle of the song. Sara talks about not just showing up and going through the motions but truly finding God in everything you do. To me that is best summed up by this simple line: by looking for the holy in the common place. (Yes, I am separating commonplace into two words, only because the lyrics posted on Sara's web site have it spelled out that way and it is a great twist on a familiar term.) It is not commonplace as in a saying, cliche, or reference to boring and undistiguishable, but truly a place that appears common, but has tiny hints of the creator's mark on them. Take some everyday scenes on the commute - snowbanks on every corner, darkness in the morning, the white glow of the moon. Pretty standard stuff - but look a little closer. The snowbanks sparkle more brilliantly than manufactured glitter. The darkness is hiding the deep blue of the daylight intensifying into the red, orange, and yellow of the sunrise. (Winter sunrises are the most crisp and colorful of all times of the year.) The moon ever changing - and as Kayla said every morning this week - "the moon is missing a piece, Mama. Where did it go?" (You tell me how to explain that to a 3 and 1/2 year old.) A wonder to behold - this changing of the moon - at any age. What is your common place? Maybe it is the glow of the computer screen, the sound of screaming children, the crawl of the rat race commute? Take a moment to pause and look around you...marvel at what the creator has given you...he wants you to look for these gifts...his holiness...his perfection. He loves you and is waiting for you to discover him in your common place. Start searching today.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Am I Singing? I can't help but ask myself this question. I get so sucked into the everyday...the drudgery, the repetition, the predictability of it all. Have I left room for the song...for the song of my soul? Those of you who are parents of young children know that time spent with your spouse or even alone to meditate is nearly impossible to realize. But as your children grow you find that little space for reflection. Maybe it is in the the car...the few minutes before you fall asleep. For me today, it was in the car. I was listening to one of my favorite bands of all time, U2 - "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." I highly recommend anything that U2 has ever done, but especially this CD. Critics of this CD would likely mention the use of Christian themes and images throughout to sell a cheap, emotional experience (or worse, alienate the listener). But I think those critics missed the point. U2 is not borrowing Christian themes and images for fun or because they may promote some pseudo spiritual experience. They truly believe this stuff. There is no way a song like "Yahweh" was written without a knowledge of several portions of scripture and then a personal revelation of what that means to the writer. I am blown away by the depth of each track on this album and how I'm personally changed by the message of this song and several others on the CD. (Sidenote - who doesn't love the Edge's brilliant, unique guitar riffs?) Back to my point - to tell you about one of my favorite parts of the song - "take this soul, stranded in some skin and bones, take this soul and make it sing." I played the song again wondering, pondering, reflecting on this question - is my soul singing? I think that for a better part of the past year my soul was crying and laughing and agonizing and intensely analyzing everything and pondering every part of the emotional spectrum. But singing? Definitely not. But today I realized that this indescribable gift of joy is welling up in me. Joy at my big girl Kayla dancing around our living at Zachary vibrating because he is standing without at the knowing, mischievous twinkle in Jerry's eyes. This joy, a gift that only God can of knowing that his purposes continue to work and flow through me and that he continues to give me hope in all circumstances. Nothing else matters.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I Don't Do Resolutions... ...but I decided to resolve with my good friend / brother-in-law Kal (check out his Moblog and Kal in Space) to starting writing in the blog more often (detailed goals - a closely guarded secret). So for those of you who are still lurking around (thanks!) look forward to seeing new posts here soon.