9/24/15 Morning Musing: Build Something

For the last couple of months, I’ve not been myself. I’ve felt out of sorts…a bit off-kilter. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that way before…like something just isn’t quite right…nothing obvious…just some bit of…unrest. I thought it was because I wasn’t musing as much as I want…and that is certainly part of it…but there was more to it. “Build something.”
Being predictable me, my first instinct was to lean away from the discomfort of knowing something was off…so I got busy…really really busy: Looking back at the summer, I spent most of it driving kids here or there or running errands…I existed but wasn’t living. I functioned and participated but wasn’t really experiencing anything. I was here with my family but I wasn’t really present. I had thoughts but I wasn’t thinking. I slept but wasn’t resting. It was as if nothing was really wrong…but nothing was really right either. Don’t get me wrong, I had some meaningful conversations and was able to still do good and fun things…but the depth that I was operating at, the majority of the time, was closer to a puddle than an ocean. “Build something.”

The last couple of weeks, the unrest has intensified: I have been practically crawling out of my skin because I’ve been so uncomfortable with the lack of feeling at home in my life. (Again, don’t read this wrong…I’m not saying that I am discontent with my circumstances at all.) It was as if I had an incredible itch that I could not scratch and so all I could do was think about how itchy I was. Stan noticed it too. He told me that I seemed less happy and more distracted than he usually sees me. “Build something.”

You know how sometimes a thought enters your head and you think, “Whoa! What’s that all about?” Being ADHD, it can be hard at times to decipher between legitimate thoughts that I need to spend time on and…well…”squirrels” for lack of a better word. For the last couple of months, I’ve been hearing “Build something” but I’ve only really paid attention for the last week or so. Being a kinesthetic learner, I set to work. I demolished the window seats in my breakfast area and began the work of rebuilding them. And as it would go, I have already been reminded of a lot of things during the process:  

1. Things like how much easier it is to tear something down than it is to build something up. It doesn’t take special skills to break things apart, shatter the pieces, and make a mess. Anyone can do this part.

2. Regardless of how much planning you do, you won’t know what is hidden behind the walls until you have opened them up and exposed what is there. (In the case of my window seats, I found tons of broken glass and lunch garbage…looks like that was where some of the builders hid things such as a broken window pane and tons of tamale-wrapper corn husks. When we gutted the bathroom a couple of years ago, I found hidden cigarette butts inside the empty space between our garden tub and the slab.)

3. Measure twice and cut once. Working more slowly and thoughtfully actually seems to be way more productive and efficient than working quickly because I’m not wasting time and materials having to re-do things.

4. It is funner (more fun?) to work with someone. Abigail has been with me a lot during this process. Like me, she likes to learn and she has been watching and helping and it has made the many hours of work fly by.

5. “Build Something” can mean more than just physically building these seats. I’ve not only been experiencing the privilege of being allowed to see the amazing person my niece has developed into (building a relationship)…I’ve also been allowed to work through what has been going on inside of myself and…what I’ve found? I love problem-solving, creating, encouraging, equipping…building…and I’ve been missing that lately as most things in my life had gotten to “maintenance mode.”  
What’s the point? Well, all of the unrest that I have experienced the last couple of months has been because I was not fulfilling what I was created to do…I’m a builder…it’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. I will never feel fully alive and fully “me” unless I am being obedient to the calling on my life…the calling to create…to take something ugly or dysfunctional (or even just missing) and transform it into something beautiful and useful…to build.
So, how are you doing with this? Have you gone through periods of time where you felt like you weren’t really living your life? Are you going through that period now? How can you give yourself the time and space to determine what is missing? Do you know how God equipped you? Do you know what God gave you passion about? Are you using those gifts and passions now? How can you invest in your calling?  
My prayer today is that we would pause and spend time listening to God so that we can hear him when he tells us the story of our calling. I’m praying that we would use, and continue to develop, the tools that he has given us so that we can answer his call well. And I’m praying that we would be blessed with full-to-overflowing lives when we use those gifts.  
Much love friends,

9/22/15 Morning Musing: It’s Only Bravery If We are Scared

In about a month, I am giving a talk in my marriage class. It shouldn’t be a big deal…I’m outgoing and never (ever!) have trouble talking with folks (whether I know them or not and whether they know that they want to talk or not)…but having a conversation is different from holding a microphone and talking from the front of the room. I have incredible anxiety around these kinds of situations…any situation where I feel like I am having to “perform.” The subject area is right up my alley: Fun and Connectedness. (I mean, c’mon! This practically has my name written all over it.) So what’s the problem?

Well, I guess my problem is two-fold:

First, there is the performance thing. I am the girl who would vomit before tests in school…from seventh grade all the way into grad school. And even as an adult, I would get performance anxiety around testing for taekwondo. (I’m sort of ashamed (and sort of proud) to admit that I was known as the lady with the fun flask at testings and tournaments. I would arrive early and pour vanilla rum into Dr. Pepper and voila! It was a yummy Vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic…but more fun.) I mean, c’mon! I’m an adult! (at least chronologically if not otherwise.) And…I am paying a lot of money for these judges to judge me…but I was so afraid that they would also “judge” me. *shudders* As a deeply-died-in-the-wool-people-pleaser, that thought alone can make me freeze up and just shut down. (And yes, I know all of the reasons (Biblically and otherwise) why I should not care what anyone thinks of me…it’s my blood pressure, stomach, and brain that have the absolutely terrified and paralyzed disconnect.) **Warning: Digresses to a story: When I first started board breaking in taekwondo, I got all gummed up in my head at testing because I knew my board-holders (Mr. Scott Mischke and Mr. Nevels.) Nicest guys in the world…but I knew them. When mentally preparing myself for this testing, I had faceless board holders…but these guys…I knew! And I liked them! Ugh! Well, as it would go, I was all amped up and kicking it wrong for the first two tries. When I got to the last possible attempt, the thought occurred to me, “If you throw up on them, you will have to quit because it will be too embarrassing to ever return to class.” Well…that’s just great! I knew then that vomiting was eminent and I had to do the last kick (pass or fail) before the vomiting happened or I was just screwed. So, I managed to throw a terrible, ugly, embarrassingly bad side kick…and accidently broke the board…with my calf. What the-? Hold on, I used to be a science teacher…I have taught physics…that isn’t supposed to be possible! And in my confusion and disbelief, I passed my test. I stood there stunned and saw the stunned and amused faces of Scott and Kevin looking back at me as I thanked them and wandered away somewhere. (I’m still not sure what I did or where I went after that…I sure hope I wasn’t driving.) The only thing that made sense to me was that I was so pathetic that God had mercy on my and broke the board for me. Honestly, it’s the only thing that I can think of.**

The other problem for me, where this upcoming talk is concerned, has to do with my long-held belief about women being quiet in church (1 Tim 2.) And while I have this settled in my mind after extensive study (I am happy to have a conversation about this if you want,) there is still something that nags at me…some insidious voice that tells me that I am being a “bad girl” (and not in the fun way…just in the disobedient-to-God way) and that gives me heartburn. It gives me pause and it opens me up to doubt. This nagging thought is the reason that I have denied my Spiritual giftedness for so long…but I simply can’t deny it anymore: Pastor/Shepherd, Teacher, Prophecy (Counsel), and Exhortation (Encouragement)…these gifts define who God made me to be and the story that he has chosen for my life to tell. So, every time I consider doing this, I have to go through the entire exercise of re-studying in order to make sure that I am in humble obedience to God and not in some sort of rebellion. It can be exhausting.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I guess it’s for a couple of reasons: First, I’d love prayer support. Ever since making this decision, I have honestly felt attack. My time has managed to become over-loaded with stuff that I don’t like or have a passion for (soul-sucking tedious stuff like updating websites and dealing with rosters and stuff) and have been denied the deep conversations with actual people’s faces (in person) about real ideas. I have been unable to muse although it is one of the only things I want to do. So, I am asking for prayer as often as God brings it to mind to think about. (And thank you in advance.)

Another reason I’m writing about this is that I think that big things are happening in the Church (universal…not just the one I attend) where biases (gender as well as others) are concerned. As long as we are unable to put ourselves in someone else’s circumstances (gender, race, socioeconomics, orientation, up-bringing, etc.) it is crucial that we talk with people to gain their perspective. I would be willing to bet that very few male pastors in the Bible Belt have struggled against feeling like they are a willfully disobedient Christ-follower for speaking truth in church. Considering that many of us spend time with others who are like us, it stands to reason that we lack exposure to many perspectives that could allow us glimpses of God’s truth and character that we don’t currently see.

Finally, I’m writing this as an encouragement. I don’t think that there are many worthwhile things in life that don’t require some work to accomplish. For example, if public speaking were easy for me, I might be prone to thinking that I was doing it through my own strength…I might forget my need for God…and then I’d miss the entire point of why I do this.

Time to flip the tables: How are you doing with this? Is there something that you should be doing but aren’t because you “aren’t good at it?” (For me, it shows up as recurring thoughts that make me go “Where did that come from? I don’t wanna do that!”) Are you surrounding yourself in “holy huddles” and not exposing yourself to other perspectives? (We are each a PART of the body…not an entire body on our own…we are meant to be in community with people who are different from ourselves (different body parts.) Who can you ask to enter with you into a healthy exchange of ideas? How can you grow in your understanding of God and the story that he would like to use your life to tell?

My prayer today is that we would be obedient to our Lord regardless of whether or not we like what he has planned for us to do. I am praying that we would honor him with a gift-offering of being willing to lean into our discomfort instead of fleeing from it. And finally, I’m praying that we would respect him and those he loves by allowing them to share stories about their experiences with God with us.

Much love friends,


9/3/15 Morning Musing: What You Contribute (Or Don’t) Matters.

For the last two months, I’ve been regularly going to cryotherapy and have been super-pleased with the results. True to form, I have continued to research and learn more about the process and (surprise surprise) it has me thinking in analogies again. Why am I bringing up cryotherapy in a musing where I usually speak about more spiritual matters? Well, as an admitted science-nerd, I can acknowledge that I LOVE learning new things and totally geek-out when I am able to begin making connections that I was not making previously. So, imagine the incredible amplification of my geek-dom when I began connecting concepts of thermal energy in science with spiritual heart-space!  

So, here goes: I have had some interactions with a few individuals lately where I have left the interaction feeling…off…like something was not right but there wasn’t any huge statement or action that I could point to and say “It was that.” It was bizarre because after each of these interactions, the only word that really came to mind when I was thinking of the off-ness, was “Cold.” (Science geek-out warning!) If you think way, way back to middle schools science classes, you may remember a little bit about energy…but specifically thermal energy…things like cold not being a real thing…it’s really just the absence of heat. Or how energy is not created or destroyed (much like matter) but can change forms (First Law of Thermodynamics.) Or how heat energy always travels from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration (Second Law of Thermodynamics) which ultimately results in an evening-out of heat energy between the two or more objects unless they are separated. (Think about leaving a mug of hot coffee on the kitchen counter and forgetting about it. When you return in a couple of hours, the coffee, the mug, the countertop, and the air in the room are all the same temperature…which just aggravates you more because now you are caffeine-deprived and the coffee is cold!)
With that information in mind, now think about the interactions that I have had where I could only describe the other person’s contribution as “cold.” I now know why it bothered me and felt off! During the conversations, I was excited and animated and…invested. I was passionate about the topic…so much so that I was willing to personally sacrifice energy and finances and time. In each instance, the other person *should* have been similarly jazzed but just wasn’t. I didn’t see any investment from them, didn’t perceive any passion in them, and in each instance, I definitely did not see them sacrificing any time, thought, finances, etc to the situation. Now, like I said before, there was no statement or action that was antagonistic…but I now get why it bothered me: My excitement and investment was high and theirs was low to non-existent…so in the course of the interaction, some of my heat, for lack of a better analogy, was leached out of me and that is why I was vexed.
Why the heck am I talking about thermodynamics and cold conversations? Well, I guess it’s because it was spiritual in nature. The topic being discussed in each instance was seemingly a topic that both participants should have been invested in because both have been called to a place of service or ministry. But in each instance, there was a lack of desire to put out any energy or effort for others…which, if I’m not mistaken, is the antithesis of service or ministry because it creates a posture of only receiving (keep think heat analogy.)  
So, here are my conclusions about personal interactions using thermodynamics as an analogy:

We are all capable of leaching someone else’s energy, passion, and excitement and we should be careful about doing that indiscriminately because I think that makes us responsible for diminishing those resources.

If we are jazzed about something and have a “calling” concerning it, we are capable of sharing some of that energy and excitement with others.

If we find ourselves to be passion-vampires, it might be time to consider a change because it is no longer service or ministry if we are the constant takers. Revelation 3 says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” **Note: the water described here had many health benefits when hot (because hot water has more energy and can consequently hold more minerals in it.) If the water was cold, it was at least refreshing, even if it wasn’t medically beneficial. Luke-warm water had neither quality.**

Matthew‬ ‭7:6 says “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” So, I think it is important, as mission-sharers, to pay attention to where we donate our “heat.” If the other person never gets warmer…then we may need to move elsewhere for a time so as to not become drained of warmth and thus rendered ineffective.

It is important to remember who our heat-source is. John 15 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Ok, if you have made it this far, I’m truly impressed…you are patient and able to follow the ramblings of an enthusiastic nerd. Here is the time where I flip the tables on you: How are you doing with this? What are you passionate about? What are you doing to pursue that passion? How are you connecting to others and ultimately serving them through your passion? If you aren’t, what changes could you make in that area? If this is foreign to you, what types of things in life sound fun and energizing to you? How can you regularly incorporate that into your life? Do you have passion vampires in your life? How could you draw some healthy boundaries where they are concerned? Finally, are you connected with your heat-source? If you aren’t, losing all of your own heat is inevitable, exhausting, and frustrating…so in what ways is God calling you to connect with him?
My prayer today is that we would be attentive and encouraging to others as they pursue God and that we would learn to better appreciate and support passions and skills that might be different from our own so as to not dampen the efforts of people who are on mission with us. Also, I am praying that we would be discerning of when and how to use our gifts and passions in our pursuit of serving the Lord. Much love friends.