Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Have You Been "Wrecked"?

I don't do endorsements often. I am an eclectic reader, my music - well we know how weird that is... I am aware that like Paul said, "all things are permissible, not all things are beneficial" and I would be horrified to cause someone else to stumble. So I keep most of those choices to myself.

I do believe in exceptions to almost every rule, however, and Wrecked fits the bill. I talked about it here. And to make it even more an exception I signed up to blog about it for the author, Jeff Goins. If you haven't guessed, I would highly recommend giving it a read! If you need a push, check out Jeff's answers to some basic questions about "Wrecked" and what it may do for you.

ME: As Christians, we all know that dealing with discouragement is a daily endeavor. We seem to think that the other guy has it easier, makes less mistakes and has better coping skills than we do. What is something that you deal with regularly that can discourage you if not dealt with properly?

JEFF: Insecurity. I rarely think much of myself — that I'm talented enough, smart enough, good looking enough, and so on. Despite what I achieve, it never seems to be enough. If I don't nip this in the bud — or more often than not, if my wife doesn't — this insecurity can consume me and paralyze me.

ME: What is a source of encouragement to you that might not look like encouragement to someone else - or what is the most unusual way you found yourself being encouraged?

JEFF: I think you alluded to it above. When I hear successful people having the same struggles that I do, I don't feel so weird. I am rarely encouraged by people who have it all together, who never seem to struggle. I can't relate to that.

ME: In "Wrecked" you speak at length about that gnawing feeling of wanting to do more, be more, give more. You also touched on the fact that not everyone experiences this is an over seas missionary. Can you please explain to those who haven't purchased "Wrecked" (yet) what it means to be wrecked and what are some examples in your own daily life that have caused you to be "wrecked"?

JEFF: To be wrecked is to be disabused of the status quo, to live a life that is about more than you. Ultimately, it's about intentionally stepping into discomfort, because that's where we grow. It's about laying down your life for others, because that's where we find our greatest desires being met.
I believe we should do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing, but I also believe this is the most fulfilling way to live — when you focus on others and their needs.
As for my own life, I'm wrecked by everything from a trip to the developing world to the discomfort of a baby crying in the middle of the night. For me, it's not about making one experience more amazing than the next; it's about where we grow. And for me, that's always the place I don't want to go: the place of greatest discomfort.
Wrecked is about stepping into those situations, ready to be changed.

ME: Your book gave me a set of definitions to wrap my head around. I knew I had been wrecked months earlier but I didn't have a way to verbalize it to others. It was an awakening and I realized there had to be more to who I was. Explaining it has been challenging. Can you clarify: Is being wrecked akin to a midlife crisis, or is it something else entirely?

JEFF: Something else, entirely. A midlife crisis is debilitating — it's what happens when you defer your adolescence and it catches up with you. Being wrecked is empowering, when rightly considered. It's a vision of a life that is about more than you. Sure, it can turn your world upside down, but if you embrace the change this paradigm shift offers, it can change everything in your life — for better.

ME: Once I experienced the holy wrecking of my life, I knew in my heart there was just no going back. Something deep inside me had changed, although my outsides looked completely normal. I wasn't singed around the edges with tendrils of smoke wafting about, so it was difficult to keep myself accountable to the commitment I had made. Who and/or what keeps you living the wrecked life?

JEFF: My family. They remind me that my story is not about me. And when I make it about me, they remind me I'm living a smaller one than I'm meant to.

So there it is, folks! You can pick up a copy of Wrecked here (electronically or analog) and start living a life wrecked in the best way possible!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wherein She Admits Things...

Photo courtesy of Quincy Brown, my daughter

It's been a while... Wish I could tell you it was because I found fame and fortune, or that I was immersed in the amazing loveliness of analog time with family and friends. It isn't. I've been angry. Specifically, I have been angry with God. I feel as though He took me by the hand, led me down a path and then when I bent to tie my shoe, I looked up and He was gone. I called and called and got no answer... Well, ok... That part isn't completely true. I got an answer, I just didn't like it. At all. It pissed me off in fact. And so, until I was ready to receive His instruction, God stripped me of my words.

For a writer to be void of the ability to write, well - that's a big deal! It didn't hit me until recently that that was what had even happened. I had talked myself into being very busy. Even today, when the overwhelming urge to write assailed me I almost pushed it aside, so unfamiliar was the sensation. I almost talked myself into the chores that need done for my son's birthday celebration. I almost unloaded the dishwasher instead. I almost immersed myself in the internet and Facebook and blogs of other colors... Almost.

Choices have consequences. I cracked open the door to my studio this morning to find that because of my anger and my neglect I have been unaware that the infrared heater had quit working. It is a chilly 20-something degrees inside. I have a little unit that I am trying to use, but so far I can still see clouds of steamy breath in the frigid air.

Because of my pride and my anger I am wrapped in a blanket and stuck wishing I had grabbed more than just one heater because this one ain't cutting it. And then it clobbers me. This is what it feels like to be cut off from God. Cold, lonely, desperate and cloaked in the slow dawning realization that I cannot stay warm by my own measure. Fixing this issue that has me so twisted and seeking my own solutions is not going to work on my own. I have to turn back to Him. I have to listen. I need to desire less my own way and desire more God's promise to provide what I need, when I need it. I have also realized I don't determine what I need, He does. It is here I am tempted to stumble again.

I think I know what I need. I don't. I know only what I want. Because the thing about needs is they are so basic, we tend to ignore them once they are fulfilled. We then move on to what we desire, what we want, what we covet... And therein lies the sin.

When I focus on what I want, what I say I deserve, I am lost. Mired in my own pride and believing my own self-sufficiency is enough, I cannot be blessed by the Lord to receive what He has for me. What I need is not comfort, or respect, or appreciation. What I need to is to have value in God's eyes. When I lose that, I lose - Period. Man will fail me every time. God will not. Time to look up and refocus.

See, God never let go of me. God didn't drop my hand to run off down bunny trails, I did. I quit listening to His quiet voice and I focused on things I thought would make me happy. I stopped to tie my shoes and I quit trusting Him. I relied on what I knew, instead of what I know of Him. I wandered off pretending that I was calling in the wilderness for His direction, when what I was really doing was making enough noise to not hear His answer. Time to take my fingers outta my ears and turn back from this bramble filled path. I look back to the clearing I left weeks ago and there He stands, waiting for me to rejoin Him, hand outstretched and patiently waiting for my grasp.

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deut 31:8

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Of Doors and Windows (Where In She Is Reminded)

The studio is chilly today. I have the heat going and I have a project I am working on, but the chill in my feet isn't leaving. This lovely little shack I have out here, roughly 150 feet from my home, is gloriously equipped with large windows. They are great for letting in light and keeping me inspired with their views, but they are not efficient holders-in of the heat. It's a trade off. I prefer the light...

Windows and doors have been swimming around my brain lately. God has been providing inspirational quotes and concepts about them. It is the start of how He gets my attention, bombarding me with something until I relent and listen closely. I think we all know about the one that goes, "When God closes a door, He will open a window instead." Tim Tebow just posted about giving thanks in the hallway when God isn't opening doors. Someone recently reminded me that your eyes are the window to your soul. So when I sat down today to write out my thoughts I had an entirely different approach in mind.

I had intended to write about how we manage our attitudes when God closes the doors on our desires or our plans. I had intended to wax philosophical on making sure we accept His guidance and blah, blah, blah. I even started the post. Yeah... Ahem. Like most things I try to handle myself, God had a different plan. To put it bluntly, my head is still stinging from the slap I got.

God chose my topic today. It isn't an easy one. It is hard. Really hard. His lesson to me today (a lesson I desperately need) is about windows. See, doors are easy. Doors are definite, cut and dried: they are either open or they are shut. They are either unlocked and accessible, or they are locked and entry beyond barred. Doors do not involve my heart condition. I can rail at the fact that I cannot gain access... But I either walk away or stand in a hallway, safely excluded from whatever lay behind the portal.

Windows are a whole 'nuther ball of wax. Windows allow me to see what is on the other side. Windows can be full of temptations and selfish desire. Windows can deceive me into thinking that but for one latch or a quick handle-crank, I could have what is on the other side. Windows make me choose. I either choose to be obedient, or I choose to desire that which God says I cannot have.

Anyone who has lived in Colorado can tell you windows can weave a tale that will leave you shivering. With 300+ days of sunshine a year, often looking out at the crystal blue skies and majestic evergreens will fool you into thinking that you could leave your jacket, even your parka, behind. It is never wise to rely on what you see. Instead, checking the temperature gauge will tell you that that sunshine is harboring a hostile 20-something degree day. Don't fall for it! Put on your coat, or stay safely inside.

God is my gauge today. I have windows tempting me these days. Windows that have promising views - things that look really good from where I am sitting in the cozy safety of my Christ relationship. The gauge is saying different. I keep looking out those windows and think maybe the gauge is off. Maybe it would be ok to just poke my head out that window and take a look-see. I have tried the door. It is still shut tight. But that window beckons...

Before I reach out and let in all the chill of our fall weather, before I allow in things that God does not intend me to have, before I disobey His kindest desire for me - before I do that, I hesitate. His voice speaks to my heart and reminds me of all the things I have seen in those windows. He asks me to recall the times I have not resisted and the pain I was caused. And He reminds me of the times I trusted Him. The times He Himself handed me more than I could have thought to desire. Much more than the window had promised to me...

Praise God, He doesn't speak to me in riddles. Praise to Him that desires me to be His tool, used by His purpose, fed by His plan. I can turn away from the windows, buckle down in my efforts and reapply myself to my time behind the closed door. I will let the window bring me light. I will acknowledge that it is there. But until the door is swung wide and I am released into the safe warm air, I will stay put, admiring the view only for what it is. Potential unrealized, until He says it is time.

Be blessed, admire the view, but enter only by the open door... Peace to you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Going it alone

Photo courtesy of Taylor Larson
Community. Human beings can't live without it, although we try. Modern technology has made us think that we can survive by just logging in, Stumbling Upon, Reddit-ing it and hitting the share button. The facts are, it isn't enough. We may think because we have thousands of Twitter followers that we are connected, but unless you are out there in the analog time-space, you are no more than a blip on the radar. Momentary. Invisible.

I have joked about the life of a trainer's wife here. And it can be hilariously frustrating. This life can also be horribly isolating and lonely. I spend many days listening to nothing but the sound of my own voice singing off tune and the ticking of the clock. (And people wonder why I talk to myself?)

When I just can't take it any more, and the grunts of my teenagers aren't cutting it, I have to make myself pick up the phone to hear the voice of another human being. I have to put on real pants and walk out the door to visit a friend. (Jammie pants are not acceptable outer wear, no matter what my daughter's friends may say...)

The same is true for my relationship with God. I was never designed to go it alone. I was never expected to be handed the set of commandments and follow each to the letter, never faltering and always obedient. Those rules were given to show me just how much I need my Heavenly Father. They are not a standard to bear but proof that it is impossible for me to live sinlessly.

Christ covers for me when I fail. When I am weak and hateful, sinful and heartless, He steps up and reminds me that this life is not about me. He taps me on the shoulder when I curse and shakes his head. He pokes me in the ribs when I am tempted to say that spiteful remark. He slaps the back of my head when I covet someone else's relationship. Christ reminds me that for His love, I would be lost and owned by the most evil of taskmasters - my own pride.

When I realize just how far I have fallen, when I am covered in the mire of the pig-pen, I bow my head and beg His forgiveness. The best part? He doesn't hesitate - He just gives it. That's how He rolls. Like a little child I am welcomed back into the fold, hugged til I have no breath left in my lungs and shown the way to walk once more. There is community with Christ.

Follow Him when the way looks dark and uncertain. Follow Him when you are tempted to make your own way. Follow Him when life calls you unworthy. He is waiting to lead you on the path, hand in hand, divinely directed.

Be blessed!

Monday, October 1, 2012

In my ear

(photo courtesy of Apple.com)
There's this trend going on to know what's on the iPod playlists of famous folks these days. I think it gives us insight into who they are when no one is talking to them. I know when I put my ear buds in I'm instantly in another world. It can be reflective, fun, angst ridden or just plain relaxing. Now, I know I'm not famous! I know you could care less about what's on my playlist.... But this is my blog, see? And I can do what I want! Besides, I found some stuff that flat cracked me up...

Amos Moses - Jerry Reed Very red-neck of me, you say? Don't care. I love this song because it tells a story... Albeit one of abuse and murder, but a story none the less. And how to hide a body in a swamp... Good to know!

Brighter Than the Sun - Colbie Caillat This song makes me smile. It's also my ringtone. That's right, despite myself I'm a freaking cheery mess! Yes, I am... Oh shut up.

Crazy - Gnarls Barkley Pretty sure this is self-explanatory. Wait, let me check with the voices.... Ya, they say it's self-explanatory!

F-n Perfect - P!nk One of the few songs that I actually got a clean version of. I am always downloading the raunchy version on accident and I couldn't be happier that I did this one right. It's my anthem to my kids. They are so amazing! And there's no trace of that icky word to wreck how I feel about them... Just sayin'.

Gold On The Ceiling - The Black Keys Ok, so I know if you know me you know that I have very eclectic tastes, and that I revel in watching tv. These guys have made it big largely in commercial background music, but also in the alternative genre. Just love em! They look completely geeky and I find that sooo cool! (Snorts and pushes up reading glasses...)

Hot For Teacher - Van Halen Ya, I'm a child of the 80's - what of it? David Lee Roth was my high school crush. There I said it.... I still like big hair, spandex and dancing like a goober. Admit it, you do too! I know you still have a pastel blazer in your closet, the sleeves crushed and ruined from pushing them up your arm... You don't? Just me? Poop....

I've Got A Woman - Ray Charles Oh man, there just isn't anything like some Ray-Ray to get ya feeling the groove! It was a toss up between this and Seven Spanish Angels... (shivers) LOVE! The song is about a complete chauvinistic who literally says a woman's place is in the home, but man! Dude can make me sing along anyway...

Mexican Hat Dance - (who cares) This is bound to raise some eyebrows if you're in the car with me and it blares out, trumpets proud! My husband is a performer who rides horses to music on occasion and that auto update thingy in iTunes? Well, there ya go... Don't judge me. I laugh every time and so I keep it on.

One More Night - Maroon 5 Adam Levine is delicious... 'Nuff said.

Rolling In the Deep - Adele My spine gets chills when I hear Adele. Just an amazing set of lungs, that gal! I sing to this one regularly... Well, if you can call me butchering an Adele song singing. Ya. Nevermind.

The Battle of New Orleans - Johnny Horton This one I keep on my iPod because, without fail, every time my daughter pushes play that banjo riff comes on and just floors her! She looks at me every single time with that, "What the heck? Mom!" look and we both have a good belly laugh. And if I'm honest, there are times I sing along... It has great childhood memories of my Grandpa.

Texas Cookin' - George Strait When you're on a diet, songs about food are hard to come by... So if I can't eat it, at least I can have a handsome dark haired crooner sing to me about it, right? No calories in that, I hope. I play the song ALOT these days... While on the elliptical... Not eating cookies. I swear.

That's it, folks... Twelve of the many tunes that keep my toe tapping and me from shooting idiots roadside! What's your fave list of songs or just stuff you have on your iPod that crack you up? Would love to hear from you. Really... Comments make my week!