Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Authentic

What I'm listening to: My Restoration mix


Five Qualities of an Effective Worship Leader (by Lamar Boschman)
1.) Knowledge of God (Have a large view of God)
2.) A Heart Shaped by Worship (Be a worshiper in private)
3.) Intuitiveness (Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is essential)
4.) Pastoral Heart (Be a leader of people before you are a leader of songs)
5.) Musicality (Play skillfully before the Lord)

As a worship leader, I've always felt more like the quarterback than the coach. Meaning I'm in there, with the congregation -worshipping - just as the quarterback is in there with the team. A leader, but in no way like the coach, who is just shouting instruction from the sidelines. I'm leading them, but we are working together to get down the field to the goal - authentic worship of God.

I struggle with accepting that's really all I can do. Our worship band is comprised of an amazing group of worshippers. They love playing music and much as I do, but above that, they love to worship. Our hearts are connected as a result.

But what of those they don't get it? Those that can't seem to engage? I see them every Sunday - their blank stares, looking just above my head and the projection sceen with the words on it. My own heart is so full when I'm playing, singing, leading worship. And as Dan (the other guitarist) said to me Sunday after we got done leading the service, "I just don't get it." He vocalized what I was feeling. Worshipping with music is like breathing for me. It is for Dan, too. Our similarity there has helped us play well together, to strum together. I just don't get those who don't engage in worship. I fear they are not engaging at all. I fear they aren't worshipping.

As the leader, what can I do? I worry about the hearts of the congregation - where they are in their walk with Christ, when I don't see authentic worship coming from their hearts. Maybe for some of them, there is no way to make sure of that by just looking on the outside. My face, my heart, comes alive when I'm playing. I come alive because I'm drawing closer to him. And I know they shows on my face. I can feel it. Maybe it isn't that way for others.

I must trust that God will change their hearts, because I can't do that. Only he can. I simply hope and pray I'm doing all I can.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Repair or Replace?

What I'm listening to: Fleming and John's Delusions of Grandeur

I'm running errands over my lunch break today and I've got the radio tuned to New Life Live by default - I'm usually listening to The Bridge, a local christian radio station, when I'm driving. Anyway, there was a caller asking about her marriage. Her husband had cheated on her, moved away and wanted nothing more to do with her and her question to them was "When do I give up on this marriage?" At one point, Steven Arterburn said "There comes a time when our hearts must be either repaired or replaced." So, my mind went back to the theme of restortation I've been exploring the last month. And I found this question very profound. Repair or replace?

It's certainly not my place to answer this question. God knows and understands the depth my hurt, and thus can best decide what I need: A new heart or one that's patched up. I recall a moment back during my days of insomnia and my "jr. year slump" that I asked God to take my heart because I didn't want it anymore. It was too battered and broken from the misuse of others.

John Donne wrote a great piece entitled Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.


So I asked myself if I could choose, would I want a new heart or one that's patched up? Mended or made over? Ravished or repaired?

To have a new heart sounds like it would be easier. None of the old hurts and heartaches would linger. A fresh start - no longer damaged, but whole again. Sometimes I think I might give anything to not have the hurt I've experienced remain with me.

But a mended heart? This is a more intriguing idea. Just as a broken limb might heal, it won't be as strong, but you'd know better for the next time. You know where your weakness lies, so you can avoid another injury. Wisdom comes with a mended heart. But so does the pain.

So what would I rather have? A replaced or a repaired heart?

For some reason I am remembering my days of 4-H when I spent my summers outside, taking old varnish and stain off the latest antique my father found. I would scrape and scrape down to the bare wood, sand it smooth and start from scratch. But I remember wanting to keep some of the scuffs. They gave the piece personality. The scuffs are what made it unique.

Great, now I'm starting to sound like an after school special.

O'erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new

We all come with our own set of emotional baggage. That doesn't mean I have to like it. So repair or replace my heart, O God. To whatever you see fit.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Snow Makes Me A Loner

What I'm listening to: Gretel's Unreturnable Dirt _____________________________________________________________
I've discovered something about myself this last weekend. When push comes to shove, I'm more of a loner than a people person.

I've been snowed-in since yesterday afternoon. I love snow. I love it's beauty, the way it symbolizes Christmas is here. Snow blankets the Nebraska plains, and blankets the trees that have lost their leaves from the windy autumn. I love to pick it up in my gloved hand and smoosh it together (yes that's a real word. To me anyway). And I especially love it when it falls from my fingers and lands on my shoes. I love it way it feels in my hair during a snowball fight, I love how it makes a warm house seem so much warmer when I come inside.

What I don't love is what it does to the roads and how it makes my trips to work scary. But it's such a small amount of suffering for the peace it brings my soul. It's my "manna from heaven" I guess.

Snow draws us inside and makes us do crazy things. I love getting stranded because of snow. It's like an excuse to be irresponsible again. Like skipping work to watch Friends all day long, or back in my college days, a chance to gather in the lobby of the dorm and watch movies all day because classes were can celled. (Which unfortunately only happened once in my four years of higher education in Kansas. It never snowed much there. Just lots and lots of ice storms.)

That all being said, I love how being snowed-in isolates me. I get to do all the little things around the house that need to be done, I don't have to put make-up on, and I can blare the music loud, I can finish my latest book: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, and I can get my guitar out and play and play until my fingers beg for mercy.

I love it when it snows.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm Addicted

What I'm listening to: John Mayer's Any Given Thursday

I can't help it. I'm addicted to TV shows on DVD.

I don't have cable. I've always seen it as an unnecessary expense, I never had it growing up, so I don't really know what I'm missing. But I kept hearing about all these great shows on the WB or UPN that I should see.

So this weekend I had Friday off, and needed to paint the Christmas decorations for the women's Christmas banquet at church. I knew I'd be inside all day (which is not a bad idea the day after Thanksgiving. I get crabby when I shop this time of year. And I love to shop.) Anyway, so rented the first couple of discs of Veronica Mars

I've noticed that since TV shows are released on DVDs now, it's getting harder and harder for me to get into the show I currect make a point to watch during the week. There aren't many - The Amazing Race, Grey's Anatomy and Alias. I used to be faithful Joan of Arcadia to until the idiot known as Les Moonves decided a show about ghosts speaking to an underdressed, over-exposed Tiger Beat star would be better to reach the target teenage audience.

Joan was a great show. The only show on my list I really hated to miss. Though it lost direction in season 2, I still loved the characters and the idea that God would use someone like the character of Joan as a vehicle was his larger plan. What I loved about Joan was the idea that God is in the little things as much as the big things. That sometimes you don't see his affects until much later, but you will always be better off if you do what he says. The one show on TV that actually said something important. That portrayed God is a positive light, that didn't make me squeek that once again, Hollywood hates all Christians and makes us come across as psychos.

That being said, there isn't much on TV now that I care about. I own the Felicity DVDs ( I actually discovered the show after it's cancellation - which wouldn't have mattered to me, as it was on the WB) and have enjoyed them. Next, I'm shipping them to Hungary to my friend Shannon who wants to get everyone over there hooked. I also have recently gotten into Gilmore Girls (I blame Shannon - she first mentioned the show to me, I went and rented it, and cannot stop loving the obscure pop culture references. Amy Sherman-Palladino is my hero. So is Keiko Agena).


So I liked Veronica Mars. It's kinda of like Alias meets Pretty in Pink. Kristen Bell is very likable. It has some funny moments, and it has an overarching story line of Veronica's dad's investigation of who killed the best friend (very a la Twin Peaks but much less creepy.) The underdog (Veronica) who once was part of the A-List crowd, suddenly becomes their biggest enemy. And later in the season, their biggest fear. It's rather satisfying. Oh, and Logan? Adorable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Crash

What I'm listening to: Caedmon's Call's Share the Well



Completely fascinating. Intensely shocking. Progressively moving. And I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. (That hasn't happened to me since American Beauty) Crash is not what I expected. But I go into most movies with very little because most of what I've seen in the last few years has lowered said expectation level. However, I'd heard the film was powerful. I loved Million Dollar Baby - which earned every award it won - and Crash was also written by Paul Haggis, so I picked it up after work tonight expecting to see a good movie, but not like this.

I was taken on a journey through a day in the lives of 15 or so different characters. Some I hated, some I loved. All I ended up caring about. So much so I found myself tracing the reason a person behaved a certain way back to the character that first encoutered them. It's Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia without the quirky sense of humor. And it has a better purpose.

This movie is about race. About the stereo-types we are pre-disposed of, and how we know they are pre-disposed, unjustified, but we believe them anyway. Actually we don't even believe them. We just feel them. And this movie makes us ask why.

Michael Pena's performance is enduring. Matt Dillion's is powerful. Thandie Newton's is amazing. Don Cheadle is cold yet heartbreaking. Everything about this movie means something. It has a point. Not just to shock you (which the language and dialogue is clearly meant to do) but to help us understand one another. The Cameron character said it best "You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself."

Go rent it. What I say about it will never do it justice.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Playing Pitch and Laughing

What I'm listening to: Norah Jones' Feels Like Home

My sides hurt. From laughing.

I've been part of a small group bible study for almost a year now. I love it. Every Monday, we meet and go through the study we are currently on. It's all women about my age, and we have an amazing time together. I prayed for the right small group to come into my life and God brought it. I am blessed.

Tonight there wasn't a study. It's the leader's birthday so we all brought junk food and played pitch. We had two tables going and it was loud. Lots of laughing, so much fun. My sides hurt and my voice is actually a little scratchy. Yes, we laughed that much.

I don't deserve this. I don't deserve such a fun night with some great people. I really don't. But there it was, kind of out of nowhere. Life's been hectic lately, with my church celebrating it's 125th anniversary this last weekend, my two jobs, the holidays coming, and tons of other personal stuff. So much I almost didn't want to go just so I had a night free to catch up on things. I hadn't had a night free in two weeks. But there is was, this small sparkle in the midst of the dark sky.

But I went because I said I would (I'm "Miss Reliable", that I am) and I'm happy I went. I am blessed beyond measure.

So why am I still frustrated?

I want another full-time job badly. I don't know what or where, but I'm so ready for something new.

Is it so much to ask that both my personal and professional life are for once good at the same time? For as long as I can remember, it's been one or the other. (Which the exception of summer to 2004 to february of 2005, when both were awful).

Even though I know I don't deserve the blessings I have, I can't help but wonder. When's it my turn?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Model A




I love this picture of the Model A. My uncle (who the car belongs to -
passed on to him from my grandpa) and my grandma are inside.


What I'm listening to: Caedmon's Call's Back Home

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What it Means to Be Held

Well, technically it snowed, but there was no accumulation, so my excitement was preliminary. Boo! The result? It's just really, really cold and extra windy. Boo!

There's this song by Natalie Grant I'm blaring on my stereo right now called "Held". The song is about the promise that after the fall of man, we have the promise of God holding us. And I know the following interpretation of the song is probably not what was intended by writer, however I've never been one for conformity.

This is what it means to be held - How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive

This is what it is to be loved - and to know that the promise was when everything fell we'd be held


And it occured to me the reason we hurt,the reason we have an ache inside us, is from being held. From that promise of things better, the promise of home. It we didn't know just how amazing home will be when we get there, we wouldn't hurt this way.

God holding you kind of hurts - if you've ever experienced it, you know what I mean. It's a feeling of sorrow (that we have so long to wait for home) and protection (from the fallen world of sin) and a million other emotions I can't even put to words.

The sacred is torn from your life. For me, that's about the sacred purity I was created to have. It's been torn from me because of my sin. And as I place my head on God's chest and let him hold me, I have to let go of that sacred purity and yet long for it at the same time. It seems so unfair. I have to live in this fallen state of sin when I know what it means to be held.

Restoration (Part 2)

What I'm listening to: "Restoration" mix of the following songs:

Time-Chantal Kreviazuk
Beautiful-Bethany Dillon
The Space In Between Us -Building 429
Find Me In The River-Delirious?
Much Afraid-Jars Of Clay
Do You Dream Of Me?-Across The Sky
Close of Autumn-Caedmon's Call
Cry A River-Amy Grant
Stars-(From Les Miserables)
This Road- Ginny Owens
Who Am I-Casting Crowns
My Father's Crown-Charlie Peacock
Pour Me Out-PFR
Still The Cross -FFH
Be Still, My Soul- Ginny Owens
I Wait For The Sun-PFR
Waterdeep-Don & Lori Chaffer & Hey Ruth
Tea And Sympathy- Jars Of Clay
The Worst Is My Being Alone-Don Chaffer
Refine Me-Jennifer Knapp
Wait For Your Rain- Todd Agnew
She Stumbles Through The Door-Sarah Masen
Save Me- Kevin Max
I'm Afraid That I'm Not Supposed To Be Like This- Waterdeep
Rain All Day-Flemming & John
Love's As Strong As Death (from "Canticle of the Plains)- lead vocal by Kevin Smith
Undone-MercyMe
Constant-Out Of The Grey
Missing Love-PFR
Fight-PFR
Damaged -Plumb
The Chasing Song -Andrew Peterson
Phobic- Plumb
You Say-Vertical Horizon
The Mountain-Steven Curtis Chapman
Hold On-Sarah McLachlan
Dare You To Move-Switchfoot

Each one is significant to this theme of restoration I'm exploring.


It's going to snow tonight and I can't wait!

Now that I have that out of my system...

As I continue to reflect on the idea that Christ came not just to rescue me from sin, but to restore me, I have a feeling I'm about to go on an amazing journey. I find myself experiencing things I've never experienced before: a new eloquence when I speak about my walk with Christ, and a new confidence in who I am. I'm cherishing experiences more, I'm loving my friends even more than before, I'm understanding why I feel the way that I do. Because God designed me that way.

Sin has ravaged our bodies, our hearts. The fall didn't just create a gap between us and God, it broke our hearts. When sin entered the world, everything changed. And the fall has broken my spirit. My own sin has destroyed my soul.

You see, I thought it was just me that felt inadequate. That felt unsure, shameful, guilty, not good enough. I thought I was the only one longing for someone to chase after me, catch me, and love me. Sin has brought all these feelings upon us. Not just me. These are the feelings God wants to restore. He wants to lead me to a place of joy and love, and out of this place of despair.

Healing an injury is usually a big inconvenience. We want so badly to be the way we were, sometimes we try too soon to go on as usual. And in the process, we re-injure it, having to start all over. His restoration of our souls should be treated the same way. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him

I have a feeling there will be much more on this topic... For now, I leave you with lyrics from song #3 on my list:

Look at my heart again/Look at the mess I've got it in
I'm trying to trust in You/To know that you'll see me through
Through my pride/Through my shame/Into Your love /Into Your grace
I'm not looking back/Till I see Your face/And I'm running straight to You
Because all I really want to do is to fall into
The emptiness that is the space in-between us/To break this division
All I really want to do is to fall into
The emptiness that is the space in-between us
Erase it and bring us together again

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Creepiest Light I've Ever Seen

I work at a lighting company and a new product we've introduced is one-of-a-kind glass art pendants. He hand-blows them, signs each one so it really is like getting your own piece of art. And I really like the artist. A lot of his work is beautiful and he's one of the nicest guys I've ever talked to on the phone, but this pendant? Creeps me out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Restoration (Part 1)

What I'm listening to: Tenth Hour Calling

I've been broken and beaten down. In many ways, over many years. By many people.

Mostly, I've just never dealt with the brokeness. Time has done well to heal some wounds, but never have I taken time to confront the hurt head on, to open it and exposed the wound so it could heal. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was out of unconscious need to squelch that hurt, perhaps it was I didn't think it was necessary.

But I have a feeling it was because of my fear of what might be exposed.

To have our pain exposed - to one person or the whole world - is nothing anyone seeks out. Our culture has taught us vulnerability = weakness and those who feel pain simply don't know how to handle the real world.

Was I afraid of being weak? I think so. But I was more concerned to acquiesce the status quo, accepting pain wasn't an option,and in doing so, I wouldn't be weak. That somehow ignoring it would make me stronger.

When God became man, walked the earth, what was it for? I'd always been taught it was to save the lost. The bridge the gap, created by our sin, between us and him. To enable me to stand before him completely justified, sinless. His blood does that for me.

But what about the rest? I've been rescued. That's what the work of the cross was did. But was that all? When Paul encountered God on the road to Damascus, did God rescue him only to let him lie in the road? No. He sent Ananias to restore Paul. To heal him.

Why should it be any different for us? A loving father wouldn't rescue his daughter from drowning only to leave her by the side of the pool. God's plan of salvation is more than just saving my soul. It's about restoring it.

Isaiah 61: 1-6
Announce Freedom to All Captives
The Spirit of GOD, the Master, is on me
because GOD anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
GOD sent me to announce the year of his grace--
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies--
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by GOD to display his glory.
They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
and foreigners to work your fields,
But you'll have the title "Priests of GOD,"
honored as ministers of our God.
You'll feast on the bounty of nations,
you'll bask in their glory.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Will Not Live For Anyone Else

What I'm listening to: Sara Groves' Conversations (In particular, This Journey is My Own, which is such a great song)

So, I talked to an old friend tonight. Someone I haven't really seen or talked to in well over a year. We still live in the same town, he's just not my neighbor anymore. When he was, I saw him 3-4 times a week usually and as a result, we become (what I thought was) very close friends. And after almost 5 years of friendship, he disappeared from my life. When he moved, that was it. No more neighbor who came knocking at my door at 11:30 at night just to talk. No guy to walk to TCBY with on a warm summer night, no more...well, no more friend.

Which, obviously, hurt me. He mentioned many times in the last few months of our friendship about how close we were and how he didn't know what he'd do without me. If not for that, I simply would chock it up to a season of friendship that passed it's time. That's common in my life, because hurting people tend to seek me out and when the healing is done, they tend to move on. I assumed that's what would happen with him. But as he continually told me how important I was to him, the assumption that he would leave went away. I believed what he said.

Several years ago I decided being friends with men was just not a good idea. Not that it can't be done, but it just gets so incredibly complicated. And every past male friendship I'd had just wasn't worth those complications. So when he and I first met, I made a mindful decision to stay away. However, that didn't work. He continue to pursue my friendship, and with my spiritual gift of mercy, it was hard not to help this guy who was hurting, who was going through a tough time spiritually, was dealing with a death in the family, moving to a new place and trying hard to make friends.

So I let my guard down. I trusted him. I believed him when he said he was very loyal to his friends and stuck by them. I thought this might be the one male friendship that would prove me wrong...that it was worth it. Then when I went though the most difficult time of my life, (last summer/fall) suddenly he wasn't around. No more pop-ins, no more of him anywhere. The last time we spoke was the night I found out 2 pieces of really bad news and he knew I was hurting. He knew I need a friend. And then he was...simply...gone

So much for the "I don't know what I'd do without you" overtures, right?

My best friend Lindsey knows the whole story and several months ago said to me, "Don't let what he's done harden you, okay?" And I was so startled by this comment. She knows me well enough to see that in me, to know if it's coming. And she was right to warn me. If I let what he did (or actually, didn't do) get to me, it would change an important part of who I am. The part of me that can help those who are hurting heal. And that part of me, while it isn't easy, is something I don't want to loose. It's something God gave me for a reason and I trust that even though it can be a burden, there's a greater purpose for it. And having this in my life, means I must be so careful who I live for. Who I let have my heart. Who I trust. Who I let hurt me.

When I sat down to write this tonight, I had no idea what I was going to end up writing about. I usually don't. But it's extra appropriate I'm listening to the song I am.

When I stand before the Lord, I'll be standing alone
This journey is my own
Still I want man's advice, and I need man's approval
This journey is my own

Why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price
What does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life

So much of what I do is to make a good impression
This journey is my own
And so much of what I say is to make myself look better
But this journey is my own

And why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price
And what does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life

And I have never felt relief like I feel it right now
This journey is my own
Cuz trying to please the world, it was breaking me down
It was breaking me down

And now I live and I breathe for an audience of one
Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one
Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one
Cuz I know this journey is my own

And why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price
And what does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life
And you can live for someone else, and it will only bring you pain
I can't even judge myself, only the Lord can say, ˜Well done.'

Oh, this journey is my own


But I think James said it best: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

So talking to him tonight was awful and uncomfortable. What did I learn from knowing this guy? I may never know, but I know that my heart is worth more than how he treated it. God has shown me that.