Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Freedom


"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.  It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?"  Galations 5:1, 13-18 The Message 
Story connects us.  Our personal story connects us to a collective story and that is our most basic emotional need... to feel deeply connected.  Yet we live in a world of fragmented realities and fractured stories, broken families, and chaotic lives.  I live in a world of fragmented reality, fractured story, broken family, and chaotic living... except when I don’t.
When I am able to hold onto the truth that I have been given freedom to live as I choose; I live in a grounded reality, an unfolding rather than fractured story, a family messy and connected, and my busyness is hushed into stillness.  
In the space of freedom I connect to my wholeness.  Freedom to be as created, freedom to be close to some and distant from others, freedom to move freely in an organic relationship with creator or to run away when I need to.  Freedom to love extravagantly and protect myself wisely.  But when I use my freedom to only fulfill self desires, my life is flat.  I have had plenty of flatness in my life because after all I am quite ego-centric sometimes.  But when I allow my freedom to live in the open, I hope it can invite others to lean into their freedom a bit more.  Who knows what more love, more consciousness, more purposefulness, and more freedom could do to shift our collective story.
I have felt very little freedom to share my story in whole and I know it is the shame I get mired down in.  I watch myself share bits and pieces across time, but now I am working on the arc of my story, because I have been given an incredible story of hope, perseverance, and extravagant grace and mercy.  I want to grow into my freedom enough to communicate the part of my story that connects to the collective.  It is a part of why I am here... to point to the horizon of hope and freedom.  Hopefully I can start lifting my gaze in that direction more often, because when I lose sight of the source of freedom, I destroy my freedom and sometimes others too.  May I be guided out of the life of self focus and into a life of consistent freedom.
To lighten things up a bit today I wanted to shared some stories that have inspired me... and they are in no particular order or catagory.  Some are books, some are movies...maybe a few that are both.  I even manage to sneak a album, TV show and a broadway musical in there too.  Yes I am completely random! 
Juno
Dogma
The Lord Of The Rings
Where the Heart Is
Pride and Prejudice
Les Miserables
Rent
The Night of the Hunters- Tori Amos
Lars and the Real Girl
Steel Magnolias
Schlinder’s List
The Wizard of Oz
To Kill a Mocking Bird
Hunger Games
Amadeus
Indian Jones and the Last Crusade
Yankee Doodle Dandy
The Big Lebowski
Shawshank Redemption
12 Angry Men
Star Wars
American History X
Good Will Hunting
The Grapes of Wrath
The West Wing...I’m re-watching the series this summer and it is better the second time around.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Seasons

A couple of weekends ago I had the most incredible experience and I am just now beginning to process all of the implications of my holy encounter.  I need to do some background painting before I tell my story... so you'll have to buckle up and travel with me through my chaotic internal monologue.  

I have a few songs that have been anthems for my life and it now occurs to me as I write that I know what another blog post will be... but I digress.  My soul language is poetry, set to silence and set to music.  It is how I interpret my world, express myself, integrate my understanding of truth.  It is the conduit through which I celebrate, grieve, suffer, rejoice, and worship.  It is where my passion gets sparked, my pain gets worked through, and my vision gets focused.  I have a cluster of voices that have greatly influenced my life direction and has greatly enriched my joyful times as well as my desert times.  

One of the voices that has travelled with me across at least a decade is Nichole Nordeman.  I first found her music through a youth ministry magazine that was helping youth workers to point teens to good music with a more hopeful message than some popular artists at the time.  This article likened her music to that of Fiona Apple.  Fiona is a gifted musician and her poetry is powerful...yet quite dark and when I listened to her music for long it evoked rage in me and so I could only listen to her music in small spurts.  (Now I feel I must insert my perspective of secular vs. "christian" music here... I believe truth is truth is truth.  I am not afraid or even skeptical of dark lyrics or exploring the darkness of our world through art, musical or any other form.  I do not use a marker of christian label or secular label to decide what is worthy art for me to experience.  Art that evokes hope and deeper connection is what I am drawn to regardless of labels.)  

So anyway, back to my point... so I was curious to find out about Nichole's music and when I listened to her first album I was amazed and deeply moved by her lyrics.  I believe her to be truly gifted and everything she has written through the years has deeply resonated with me.  We have travelled through our 20's and 30's on parallel paths, which is precisely what made this past weekend so rich a soil for my growth to be propelled.  

The seasons weekend was designed around these lyrics of hers... and more deeply around the truth weaved throughout the bible about the idea of the seasons of our lives... which is what I believe sparked Nichole to write these lyrics in the first place.



Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer
And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn
And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter
And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

Nicole JohnsonDr. Curt Thompson, Nichole Nordeman, and Katherine and Jay Wolf wove a weekend of grace, intimacy, a deep soul work for us participants.  I am in a season of grieving dreams right now, and so it was so helpful to find myself sitting amongst these teachers who were genuinely sharing their stories.  Near the end of the weekend I got a chance to share a few moments with Nichole Nordeman, in fact Nicole Johnson sought me out to introduce me to the musician.  Nicole was the organizer of the weekend and never have I had someone be so kind to seek me out of the crowd like that.  Neither Nicole or Nichole had any idea how much healing their gestures would bring for me.  I fully intend to sit down and write each of them a note though... that is for sure.  

My friend from MOPS helped make a dream come true for me.  That gift was a kiss on the cheek from God reminding me that the common thread of my life was sewn throughout the weekend.  Yes I am still known, even in my mistakes and failures.  Yes I am still loved...no matter what.  And yes we are a body of believers and by intention we can hold each other up day by day.  We are all given a second, third, forth..one hundredth chance we just need to open ourselve up to that kind of healing.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Breathing...

I am really working on the basics today.  Remembering to breathe... breathe in presence, breathe out  stress.  Why is our most basic function so hard to be mindful of in times of great stress?  That is when we need it most.

I am in a season of returning to the basics.  And breathing is most definitely a basic.  A basic need, a basic expression. It is among our very first individually executed acts upon our arrival to this place and the last thing we carry with us when we pass on to what comes next.  What seem quite amazing to me is that in the everyday in between it seems so mundane and ordinary.  I push its reality to the edges of my awareness, that is, unless I need it and it is not available for me when I beckon.  Breath is a subtle travelling mate vital in every way, even while operating underneath the spotlight.  Life cannot happen without breath, and yet I have forgotten to notice it's presence for far too much of my experience through time.

So today I pause.  I pause to bring in the present reality and breathe out the stress of my burdens.  And hopefully in that exercise, I can experience balance for just a little while.  I can control my breath, but I cannot change much of what burdens me now.  As long as I have breath, I have life,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baby J's Disappointment

My sweet girl worked hard all morning coloring a picture for disney and art directing her momma for a photoshoot.  You see she wanted to submit a picture to a disney contest that it turns out she is a tad too old to enter.  So bummed as she may be, I gave her a consolation... submission to momma's blog, so here you go:


It may not be disney... but it helped her accept the rules and accept the reality.  I happen to think she is the sweetest most adorable girl in the world....

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Common Thread

Sometimes I get a little glimpse of the thread that goes through my life and it has a beginning as far back as my memory stretches.  It is a constant yet silent companion that accompanies me everywhere I go... and too much of the time I forget I carry it with me.  It is, all the while, weaving it's way through my life, so much so, that I believe the Creator is creating a sort of tapestry with it.  A design of which I cannot see in it's entirety, but I am acquainted with the general theme.

Every now and again I get a sneak peek of what comes next and every single time I get a glimpse it takes my breath away and scares me to my core.  I have no doubt that is why I rarely get a glimpse, for it is too much for my control freak tendancies and over attention to detail.  I begin to worry about how I'm gonna get from the ditch I find myself lying in today, to the place I being beckoned towards tomorrow.

So for today I will just choose to give thanks for the thread that is so very common in my daily life.  I do so much of the mundane that sometimes I feel like I'm moving nowhere fast, but I have to believe that valuable work is still being done, regardless of my commonness or my pace.  My thread is common indeed, but in the hands of a mighty artist, it is good... so very good.  May you find a glimpse of your common thread today!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

It's in the little things....

I need a little pick me up so I need to list some things I am loving about life right now in the present:

Jack FM 93.1... better than any playlist I could create.

My brother and sil put up a pool in their backyard... My kids can swim all summer and I don't have to do the maintanence!

These three kids and pj days:


I just started this new book, The Dirty Parts of the Bible.  Initially I was sparked by the title, but then I read the description it likened it to:

"a rollicking tale of love ad liquor, preachers and prostitutes, trains and treasure, so to appeal to fans of Water for Elephants, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Mark Twain, and Johnny Cash..."

Well... check, check, check, check....I'm a couple of chapters in and I'm totally sucked in.

Summer Scrapbook Challenge... My craft club made of the best women in the world are trying to get our pictures in albums so we make it a challenge.  The person who does the most pages this summer wins a new album!  I am working on Bubbas baby book and hopefully will finish it with this contest!

My kids all learned to play Monopoly... so much fun!