Wednesday, February 26, 2014

On Glancing Back but Moving Forward...

"Confession is good for the soul"
Isn't that what "they" say?

Now rest assured, I'm not about to unload a deep, dark secret on you! But I touched on something in my last post that has been on my mind ever since.

I described how a song made me feel when I sang it and I've mentioned many times that I cry easily.

I've somehow managed to hold myself together in front of my "newer" friends, especially at church.  There is definitely a FEAR attached to letting them see me cry.

I even got asked last Sunday after singing in the choir if I was ok.

And I said, "yep."

I said I was fine.

Not really a lie; not complete truth either.

Why do I do that?
Why do WE do that ('cause I know I'm not the only one)?

Somewhere along the way, I learned that when someone asks, "How are you?"

You respond with, "I'm fine; and you?"

A response which is built on assumptions:

  1. this person doesn't really care how I am; this is a custom - a nicety - a habit.  They don't really want to listen to HOW I am...tired, frustrated, upset with my kids, feeling insignificant...
  2. I can't really trust this person with the truth - MY truth.
  3. if I tell the truth and answer honestly, I'll be labeled an over-sharer or a downer. I've been accused many times of being an unhappy person. I'm a worrier, a thinker, an analyzer - but not generally unhappy.
  4. it's ok to lie because it's a little thing.   Not a good practice when you have "little people" watching your every move.  Learning from your actions as much as your words.
If we aren't living what we're teaching them, they won't respect us in the small matters, much less the big ones.

I've tried so hard to drop any and all facades.  To stop pretending. To be {REAL}.

I'm not quite there and I don't have all the answers.

Last week I used the word "NAKED" to describe to a friend how I feel standing front and center in the choir.  Trying to control my emotions with so many people watching.

This week, I've had several people comment, "like", "favorite", or simply tell me something about one of my blog posts.

And I feel naked.  And freaked out.

And a little like I want to delete every word I've ever typed here because they make me vulnerable.

But I will not.

I also said in my last post that I don't believe in coincidences.  I believe there is a reason and a purpose for everything.

Even the things I'm not so sure of.
The things that make me uncomfortable.

The mess I don't want to show...

I love this quote and pray He can turn my mess into something beneficial for someone else.  Not for my glory, but for His.

I believe He can!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Front and Center

I'm not a front-and-center kind of girl.  

Not by choice anyway.

what "HOME" looked like when we left for Atlanta last weekend...

But on Sunday mornings that's exactly where I am.  Front and center of the choir - it's sort of my assigned spot.

Yesterday, after my Pampered Chef cooking show, someone asked me if I had always been outspoken.
What I think she meant was "outgoing."

Outspoken? Yes - I am quite opinionated! Outgoing? Not at all! Shyness is definitely in my nature!

That's why Sunday mornings are such a weird place for me.

Wanting to sing, praise God, and lead the church in worship, but wanting no one to look at me while I'm doing it.  

Please know that I know that sounds crazy!

...the kind of "snow scene" we saw when we came back...

My primary form of worship is music.  Music speaks to me to more than any other medium and so I try to use it to speak to others.

I'm also a person who likes to know what's coming next.

So this morning when we sang this song, and I had no idea it was coming, well I almost lost it. Like, the ugly-cry-kind-of-lost-it.

I have LOVED this song since the first time I heard it several years ago.  Every time I hear it (or sing it), I struggle to keep from crying.

...random piles of dirty snow...

And pared with the other songs we sang and the message from the pastor, I knew it was all meant for me.

...a scene from our Atlanta stay...

I'd wanted to stay in bed this morning.

Pull the covers over my head and hide.  Definitely NOT go stand in front of a bunch of people and sing.

But I was supposed to be there.  I don't believe in accidents.

And that message had my name all over it (I'll share more about it later).

...this week? Temps in the 70's and flowers springing up! Crazy weather!

God used 4 songs, the pastor's sermon, and the Sunday school discussion to remind me of one very important thing:
My life is to be filled by, and FUL-filled by, HIM and only Him.

sweet doggie who we missed while we were away!

Not another person, not a circumstance, not a reward or an accolade. Not hugs and kisses, not snuggles with our fur-baby, not material possessions, or a pat on the back for a job well done.

HIM and HIM alone.

When am I going to get that through my head?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

He IS Real and so is Forgiveness...

I'm a crier.  I'm not really sure exactly when that happened because if you ask my Mom, I was a super easy baby between birth and 2 .  I put myself on a sleep and eat schedule, was very easy to potty-train, didn't cry a lot, etc.  BUT at some point, she discovered {as did most everyone in my life} that I am Hyper-Sensitive.  It doesn't take much to hurt my feelings and generally that shows itself in the form of tears.  

I'm that crazy woman crying over a song on the radio or the Hallmark commercial or, heck, even a Kleenex commercial.  Toy Story 3 - makes me cry every time I watch it!

I cry when I'm happy, when I'm mad, when I'm sad.  It seems most of my emotions often involve tears.

But at some point in the fairly recent past, I've begun to hide that part of me.  Ironically, it's this same period of time that I've come the farthest in my quest for being real and authentic.  Somewhere in there, I told myself I was trying to balance being authentic without over-sharing.  
There's a fine line, y'all :-)

So last week, when I wrote "if God is real then why don't I live like it," I didn't know - couldn't know- about this song we'd be singing at church this week. It's not new to the choir members who have been around a few years, but it's new to me.
 I should've guessed. 
He always shows up to reinforce what He wants me to hear and learn. 
{Video contains images from The Passion of the Christ, so here is your warning that it can be a little graphic for some viewers :-)} 


And I didn't know - couldn't know- about the discussion we'd have in my Tuesday morning bible study group, that would lead me to Ezekiel 36:26-27 (corresponding image below).
But, again, I should have. 
It really is frustrating to walk around everyday with so much emotional baggage and shame for my many mistakes. KNOWING full well that I've asked for forgiveness & He's already forgotten and that I'm the one who just can't seem to let it go. 

I often wonder if it's because I became a Christian so young? I think somehow I thought I would be immune to the pull of sin & the ways of the world. 
Why did I think that? 
Clearly, it wasn't true. 
If anything, Satan delighted more in my screw ups because I thought I was   NEVER supposed to screw up. 

I do wonder WHY I can't seem to let myself off the hook? I'm beginning to think I need some sort of intervention or intense 12-step-program like for recovering addicts. 
Maybe I am addicted.  
Addicted to self shame? Is that a thing? 

If I go back and apologize to EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. I think I've wronged in some way in my life, will I feel better? I have a feeling many of them forgot - or at least forgave- long ago.  

So when I sing this song - a song that reminds me He paid my sin debt- He finds me "Not Guilty" - how on earth do I NOT completely fall apart? 
And how can I completely fall apart in the front row of the church choir on Sunday morning?  
MY answer is "I Can't." 
His answer remains to be seen. 

All I can do is sing more with my heart and less with my mouth. 
My hope is that even if I collapse in a messy puddle, it will in some way be for HIS Glory. 
Lord knows, I'll be mortified, but that's selfish of me & I long to be selfless. 

Self - less & Christ-more... 
I have a feeling the road from here to there is bumpy, but I'm buckling in and hanging on.

Monday, February 3, 2014

...then WHY don't I live like it?

I've been reading this lady's blog for over a year now. 

I love her words and I love her heart and her space always blesses me when I take the time to visit.

She writes her heart and she loves her people like I can only hope to do.  She welcomes in everyone and serves her neighbors, loving them as she loves her self and her own people.

Currently, she has a guest post series running with the topic of "If God is real, Then..."

Today I read the post just before my shower.  The shower seems to be a serious thinking place for me most mornings and this morning my head was swimming with the phrase, "If God is Real, then...?"

Then, what?

I know God is real.

I can't remember the last time I actually asked myself IS God real, or made a statement that IF He were real...

But today, what answered back was this:

If God is Real, Then why don't I live like He's real?

If God is Real to me, and my impulse is "Well, of course, He's real!" why is there ever a day when I LIVE/LOVE/ACT dejected, worn, shamed and guilty?

Why is there ever a day when any one of us walks around feeling or talking about ourselves as if we aren't valued?

Why don't we value ourselves?

We walk around singing songs like "Your Grace is Enough" but do we show it on our faces? In our demeanors? Or do we walk around looking like all hope is lost and we just lost our best friend?

Now, I'm preaching to myself here as much as anyone, so don't be offended.

Instead, I just want to reflect {and I want YOU to reflect} on that question:
If God is Real, Then Why don't I live like He's real? How should I be living/loving/acting/serving differently?

Because it should be different shouldn't it?

Shouldn't my life look different to others?