Monday, February 11, 2008

I love my friends, they're all so arty

So, I'm reading this book called All About Worship. It's a collection of essays from various people discussing what worship is and what our place is in worship. I find it intriguing. I can't say that I'm all about all of the essays. Some of them seem to have a great idea but kind of meander off with it so that I can no longer be like, "heck, yes!" Instead all I can give them is, "I can see what you're trying to say."

The essay I'm in the middle of right now is about full-time worship ministry. It's extremely interesting, and I may need to find a way to share it with some of my friends. Anyway, part of the reason I love it is because it's soooo not about me! :P I believe I recently wrote a blog that referred to the fact that I love hanging with and talking with artsy people, people who relate to God through the arts. I love the artists and the songwriters, the musicians and the vocalists, the sculptors and the architects. I love their passion and insight. It's unique. For example, I love the drawings my sister does when she interprets a Bible verse! Oh my gosh! It rocks my socks off every time. I like to think I love hanging with these people because I love the beauty in God's creation and I love the way they seem to be in sync with it. I love the way music and art express emotions and display beauty. I get a lot out of listening to music. I get a lot out of the harmonies and the melody and the lyrics, but I'm not really gifted to make that music...definitely not to write it. I get a lot out of paintings. I love to contemplate art and absorb it, but I'm not gifted to create it. So, like recently, I've been listening to some songs written by a friend of mine. They totally blew my mind away. Were they perfect? No, but they'll get closer. Point is, I was listening to these songs and feeling extremely moved by them...but it also made me think what he was writing about. I mean, the songs have to come from some sort of experience...and it made me really stop to think about him and his life and what these songs told me about him, about God, and about their walk together. That's how I roll. It's weird for me because I know there's a story and an intended meaning...but I don't know how to ask about it...or if I'm even in a place to do so. I don't like to pry. It's similar with my sister's art. She draws these amazing pictures, and when she explains what they mean, whoa! But at the same time, I sit and think about how she came to be in a position to draw that picture. What experiences she's had that influenced it, what it says about her walk with God...Probably none of my business, but with things like art you get a glimpse into another person's soul and are privileged to see a little bit of how they see the world and their Lord. It's awesome, in my opinion.

That's why the passage I just read in my book really stood out to me, thus making it necessary for me to share it with the world...or at least...put it on my a post-it on my little bulletin board in my little corner of the world.

Right, so here's the passage:
"I believe songwriting is a gift. Songs are written through experience. It is hard to write a song of desperation if you have never been desperate. It is impossible to write a song that is theologically balanced if you do not know the Bible. My point is that I write worship songs out of the experiences of my life and the things that I learn in the Word of God...Songwriting is like opening the door to our personal "junk closet." We open the door and all the "junk" in our lives starts to fall out: insecurity, pride, anger, unforgiveness, to name a few. These things hurt us for a time, but we also get to write songs about them. These songs may speak to others going through the same things. The day to day experiences of my life drive me to write songs. By working an ordinary job, I have an acute understanding of what it is like to need God in a world that does not care for Him at all. Some feel that having more time to devote to prayer and Bible study would make songwriting easier. It might be. On the other hand, we all need to pray, to study the Word and to fellowship with God whether or not we are in the full-time ministry. Songwriting requires gifting and calling which only God can produce. I truly believe that God has gifted people to write worship songs. I also believe that He has "seeded" our lives with the experiences and revelation of the Word that we will need to write the songs He has ordained for us to write. I heard Carol Wimber say, "There are the songs that we write, and then there are the songs that Jesus writes." I know which ones I prefer."

I like the last two paragraphs of the essay, too. So, just to throw them out there:
"We are all full-time worshippers and ministers. Our very lives are to be presented to God as living sacrifices. We do lead worship when we stand before the congregation. But we also lead worship when we are honest at work, love our wives and children, when we feed the poor, preach teh gospel, play with our kids, and in everything else we do down to the most trivial aspects of life.
Let us work to let all we do demonstrate the 'priesthood of the believer' and to bring glory to our God whether we get a church salary or not."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mind-bottling, isn't it?

"You know when your thoughts get so crazy they get trapped, like in a bottle."

I am sooo there, right now! I feel like I'm going crazy. I'm actually using my homework to try to focus in and concentrate and not lose my mind. I know, crazy. But I just...feel crazy and have a sense of dread about me...too much to think on...too much going on...too much crazy! And as funny as the term "mind-bottling" sounds, it's kind of accurate. It's like my thoughts are bottle-necked. There are so many thoughts and feelings and junk that I feel like I need to purge a few of them, but I can't because they're all jostling against each that none of them can escape...they're just standing there shoulder-to-shoulder, trapped...that's kind of what I'm feeling trapped...I have this amazing ominous feeling today. It's rough...that's the twinge of panic...every now and then, I'm just hit by a brief moment of pain and panic (hahas...anyone seen Hercules). It's okay, though. I've got my homework to focus me in, to drown out the noise...and coffee to artificially make me feel chill.

Yes, this the crazy blog post of the weekend...but it feels so good just to put a little of that crazy out there...not for anyone to see in particular...just so it's out there, beyond me, a bit removed...*sigh*

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Part of the Body

Okay, blog. I'm getting blog happy, I know, but it happens from time to time. Anyway, so last weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of a Bible study with my middle school girls. It was so awesome to sit and discuss 1 Corinthians 12 with them. It blew my mind to hear them talk about it (I love that about middle school Bible studies), but it also stuck with me as something for me to ponder deep in my heart...something to struck a chord, I guess. I always loved 1 Corinthians 12. I always loved Paul's discussion of the body of Christ. I read this amazing book on it once, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. It was about Paul's discussion of the body of Christ and how all that we have learned about the human body since that time only makes it cooler and more relevant! It's hard for me to explain exactly why it's so cool, but trust totally is, especially if you're into anatomy and physiology and all that stuff or have a vague understanding of those things and are into theological discussions. Anyway, lately, I've been pondering all kinds of summer plans, my future plans, what I'm doing with my life right now...what I have to contribute, what gives me value, what my purpose, I don't expect to have all those answers like ever, but I list them just to point out that I have been thinking about a variety of things. Some are introspective, some are speculation...It's pretty exciting. :P Thanks to my thoughts and the events of last weekend and the reminder of the crazy awesomeness found in 1 Corinthians 12, I've been thinking a lot on spiritual gifts and all that stuff. And if you are one of those friends of mine that read the word spiritual gifts and think, "You know, I've been meaning to talk to her about that." then do so. I am primed and ready...until my mood changes again. So, don't put it off.

Anyway, part of the reason I've been thinking about it is because I've been admiring the amazing gifts of my friends and family and even the youth I've come to know and love. They all blow my mind. I must admit, I've found myself experiencing a bit of gift envy from time to time, lately. I would enumerate the many people who I believe have amazing gifts and are awesome! But that would be unnecessarily wordy and such...and if even I can recognize that, it must be true. So, I will instead say that if I am envious of you or admire your gifts, you may hear about it in the not so distant future...and if you don't, it doesn't mean I don't envy or admire you, it means I got crazy busy again.

As I thought about my gift envy, I realized that my perceived physical inadequacies (I mean to say the fact that I struggle to see myself as beautiful or attractive) seems to parallel my inability to perceive how I have anything to offer inability to see myself as being valuable or gifted, as someone who contributes to the workings of the body of Christ, let alone contributes something of worth to the relationships she has (and so we're clear...I mean ALL relationships, not just dating). Anyway, I was thinking...if your outward beauty is supposed to be a reflection of your inner beauty, is the fact that I don't see myself as beautiful or attractive linked to the fact that I don't see myself as beautiful on the inside. If beauty's in the eye of the beholder, then is it my inability to see myself as someone of value and worth what truly clouds my vision in regard to my physical appearance? What saddened me was that I realized that while that is probably an over-simplification and my problems are probably much more twisted and complex, I'm pretty sure there's some merit to the idea.

It made me think on my discussion with the middle schoolers and how the part of the passage that seemed to stand out to them was: "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" In contrast, the part that stands out to me is: "If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body." Yes, that's right...instead of believing that I somehow am WAY more qualified to be a part of the body of Christ, instead of believing that I have SO much to contribute and SO much to offer others, I tend to believe that everyone else has so much more to offer. Oh, yes. I am that foot. I am that ear. In my world, I am a superfluous body part. Could I help out? Sure. But am I necessary? That's what I have a hard time answering. I mean, I don't doubt that God could use me. He can use everyone and anyone. But by the same token, God can accomplish stuff however He wants. If I say no, He'll find someone else. He can do without me.

It makes me think of another part of last weekend, the video with Dick and Rick -- the father-son team that runs marathons and such. The thing that stood out to me watching that video was the part where it said, "Rick couldn't do it without his father. Dick wouldn't do it without his son." That definitely made me all misty-eyed. The difference between couldn't and wouldn't. You see, I love words...I love the nuances...I love word of the most frustrating feelings for me is being unable to find the right word, or using a word that I know is inadequate. I digress. Anyway, it got to me that moment, I felt...loved and valued...I mean, I was reminded that I need God to accomplish anything awesome...but I'm generally pretty aware of the fact that I'm inadequate on my own. Inadequacy is something I totally get. What brought me to tears was the other word, "wouldn't". It means that God so doesn't need me. He can accomplish whatever He wants without me. He chooses to use me. He chose to give me the gifts I have (though I honestly don't know what they are....grrr...). He chooses to give me opportunities to touch people's lives and share His love. He wants me with Him. He wants to use me...because He loves me...and He wants me to share in His work and His glory and His experiences...not fully, of course, because I'm me and I'm human and I just don't get the grandeur of all that He, I so don't do the work. I do, however, choose to go along for the ride and chill with my Daddy and admire His strength and His commitment, His heart and His passion, His sacrifice and His love. That's nothing to sneeze at. Would I like to understand more about how and why I matter? Yes. Would I like to know where I fit in to this body? Yes. Would I like to know what piece I am in the puzzle? Yes. Does it frustrate me when I get the feeling that those around me have a better idea about where I fit then I do? Absolutely! But it's okay...little by I learn more about who God is and how much He loves and values me, I pray that He and all the wonderful people He's put in my life, will help me to see and realize that I belong here...that I play a part here...that I'm valuable and important.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Just a big softy...

Okay. So, here's the deal. This is the second draft of this post. I just deleted the last one because it meandered around until I realized that this is what I really want to talk about today.

So, here's part of the inspiration: I was listening to my friend's recordings on myspace. One of the songs he sang was "This is a Call Out" by Thousand Foot Krutch. The words made me feel exposed because it sounded a lot like a story of the past few weeks of my life. Yay....Anyway, so here are the thoughts will continue below them.

She fooled all of her friends into thinking she's so strong
But she still sleeps with the light on
And she acts like it's all right on, as she smiles again
And her mother lies there sick with cancer
And her friends don't understand her
She's a question without answers
Who feels like falling apart.
She knows, she's so much more than worthless
She needs to find a purpose,
She wonders what she did to deserve this

She's calling out to you
This is a call, this is a call out
Cause everytime I fall down, I reach out to you
And I'm losing all control now
And my hazard signs are all out
I'm asking you to show me what this life is all about

And he tells everyone a story,
Cause he thinks his life is boring
And he fights so you won't ignore him,
Cause that's his biggest fear
And he cries, but you'll rarely see him do it
And he loves but he's scared to use it
So he hides behind the music
Cause he likes it that way
And he knows, he's so much more than worthless
He needs to find the surface
Cause he's starting to get nervous

He's calling out to you
This is a call, this is a call out
Cause everytime I fall down, I reach out to you
And I'm losing all control now
And my hazard signs are all out
I'm asking you to show me what this life is all about

Have you ever felt this way before
Cause I don't wanna hide here anymore
Take me to a place where nothing's wrong
And thanks for coming, shut the door
And they say some one out there sees us,
Well if you're real, then save me Jesus
Cause I've been this way for far too long
I wasn't meant to feel alone

I'm calling out to you
This is a call, this is a call out
Cause everytime I fall down, I reach out to you
And I'm losing all control now
And my hazard signs are all out
I'm asking you to show me what this life is all about
Show me what this life is all about
Show me what this life is all about

So, yeah...guess what...I totally try to pretend I'm all strong and tough and okay. I try to convince myself and everyone else that I'm so together. I do all the things I should know, study, do my homework, go to church even...just so I seem okay...but lately, I haven't been a lot of the time...I've kind of been doing this rollercoaster thing where I'd wake up fine and then I'd crash and then things would get better and then I'd crash again! grrr...Anyway, I prefer to keep such things to myself and just deal with them. Because it's easier. Plus, to share such things would be to share with others that I'm crazy and a bit neurotic...and that would make me feel...messy. I don't like to feel messy because it makes me feel like a burden and a bother. I just can't handle that. But thankfully (though I don't always appreciate it), God has blessed me with good friends that actually ask me how I am and friends that invite me places. He even uses some of my friends to provide me with opportunities to serve Him. He uses my friends to draw me out of my hard candy's probably not a candy, I'm not chocolately, pretty sure. Maybe I'm more like an oyster...and he prys open my shell to bring out the big soft lump that is me? I dunno. Regardless, God keeps presenting me with opportunities that draw me out and connect me with others. They remind me that I'm a big softy. I care about people and love them even when they don't love me...I just do...I hate putting myself out there like that, but when it happens, I end up caring about people and loving on them...usually...sometimes, if it's a truly stellar God moment, I even acknowledge that other people love and care about me. :P For instance, God via John and Nyla gave me the chance this last weekend to go to the Youth Quake in Sufu. And guess what! I ended up loving and caring about those middle school girls and the high school girls that came along...and I even made new friends! Whoa! It was pretty intense and made me feel crazy vulnerable. I'm still coping with that. I feel very exposed lately...soft and squishy...and for once, I'm not only referring to my soft and squishy tummy...I'm talking about emotionally...I'm feeling exposed. I'm feeling vulnerable because I feel out there. I feel connected to people, which means that I'm worried that I'll become messy or a means that I'm scared that I might get hurt. But at the same time, I feel great...I feel blessed and I feel warm because I genuinely love all the people I bonded with.

I guess, today, I feel like a big softy in every sense of the word (I tried on clothes, yes, I'm feeling physically soft, too :P). Is it a good thing? I don't know. It could go either way, I suppose. But right now, I have faith that God will use it for my life and others, show me that I'm valuable and have something to offer...maybe even that I am beautiful? And in other lives, maybe show them that they are so loved? I don't know...I can't pretend to know right now. All I can say is that I feel soft and exposed. And I'm trying to have faith in God so I can remain that way...I'm trying not to retreat into my shell too quickly.

Oh, and the whole trying to find her applies here! Because maybe part of my purpose is to people? and care about them? Wow...that's way too much positivity directed at myself for one, I will not be exploring that right now. I just wanted to throw the topic out there.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Frustrated and Tired. Where do I go from here?

"Never underestimate my Jesus."

Just one of the song lyrics that entered my train of thought during the Ash Wednesday service tonight. Other lyrics and fragments of songs included:

"Search me, know me."

"Take my life and let it be."

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me..."

"Take my heart and form it. Take my mind, transform it. Take my will conform yours, to yours, O God."

I am tired...I'm tired of discerning the next step...what happens next...where to go for the summer...I'm frustrated because the answers I get from God are so challenging sometimes...they make my life feel so life seems so hard! But God never said it'd be easy, right? He just said we'd never be alone. I feel myself starting to soften up and surrender. I know I need to do so...let Him lead and all that. It's not easy, but it's best...and it's what I want. I want to be close to God. I want to follow Him. I'll just have to trust Him every step of the way because I can foresee some amazing hardships. So, I'm praying with all those lyrics on my heart that God will continue to work in me. To shape me and guide me and show me where and how I ought to go about all of this. It's horrible exciting. Praise be to God!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Numb with Dread

Okay, here's a largely unoriginal blog, as I am going to steal lyrics to describe my thoughts and feelings. I was listening to music on my headphones the other day, and when this song came on, I was struck by a revelation and filled with dread at the exact same moment. I realized that this song pretty accurately describes the way I currently relate to my mother. I don't really feel like explaining...I feel like letting the lyrics speak for themselves. So, why was I struck with dread? Because it reminded me that my mother and I will have to have a rough conversation in the near future about what I'm going to do with my life this summer. I'm not so sure it will go real well...but...ya' gotta do what ya' gotta do...when you feel called to do so? Yeah...anyway, without further ado, the lyrics that blew my mind:

Numb by Linkin Park

I'm tired of being what you want me to be
feeling so faithless
lost under the surface
I don't know what you're expecting of me
put under the pressure
of walking in your shoes

[caught in the undertow / just caught in the undertow]
every step that I take is another mistake to you
[caught in the undertow / just caught in the undertow]

become so numb
I can't feel you there
become so tired
so much more aware
I'm becoming this
all I want to do
is be more like me
and be less like you

can't you see that you're smothering me
holding too tightly
afraid to lose control
cause everything that you thought I would be
has fallen apart right in front of you

And I know
I may end up failing too
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you"