Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Year's Worth of Thanks

It is my birthday! I'm *CENSORED* years old today, and Google had a little party-looking design on my screen this morning, and Starbucks gave me a free coffee. But more even than free coffee, I have enjoyed the thoughtful birthday wishes on facebook, texts, phone calls, gifts, vegan cake, and donations to IJM on my behalf.

So thank you for the wishes and thoughts!

Other things that happened this year that I'm thankful for:

getting to know Jesus better

Maui and the Whales!
so many good books
Cambodia (and the cool new friends I made)
Guatemala (and the cool new friends I made)
getting to be a part of what God is doing in Cambodia and Guatemala
The Hunger Games movie
vegan cheese dip
a new apartment
another manuscript completed
my pappasan chair
Starbucks mugs
four new red lipsticks
Deep Thinkers Writing Retreat (and the cool new friends I made)
Dante the Charcoal Impala
TWO half marathons, only one of which I walked.
The Sixth Annual Buckner Turkey Trot Racing Team
a Twitter account
seeing the scripts I wrote performed by digital animals
John Mayer's new album
Lief the Apple

And so much more. It was a good year, that's for sure and I have high hopes for the next. Here's looking at you, *CENSORED*!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Holy Fork

I used to like the little salad forks with short prongs. Now I'm more a fan of the full size dinner forks. There is a chance this is due to the amount of pizza I consume and that the longer tines don't smash the crust or displace the toppings.  It could be that my mouth is bigger. I prefer to associate it with maturity--how, I'm not sure, but I prefer this explanation nonetheless.

I was reading a book yesterday where it said, roughly, that surrendering to God means accepting that your sole purpose is to be used by him in lives around you. It sounds spiritual. And it makes me shudder.

If this is true, I'm essentially a sanctified fork. It's really hard to feel fulfilled by that. And I don't think that's what God wants. That's certainly not what Jesus preached. He was a lot more about being. Being a branch, being a son/daughter, being in Him and Him in us.

There is no human relationship we would applaud where the sole purpose of one party was to be used by the other. And we're piddly old humans. Not even half as wonderful as the Divine. So if we expect more of each other than a list of to-dos, why would we expect less of the God who so loved us that He gave His son? One doesn't make a move like that to beef up his silverware drawer, but for relationship and for all-consuming passionate love. He did it so he could know us and we could know him.

I think fully surrendering means giving God who we are. Not to be used, to be enjoyed, reveled in. And to talk and spend time and bask in him too. The doing will happen, sure, but its more a "doing with" than "being used by."  Jesus spent a lot of time kicking it in the hills with no one but his father. And yes, he did a gazillion miracles with God, but they were in it together, and some days he didn't do any at all. I bet he didn't feel bad those days, I bet he just relished his Father and let his Father relish Him.

So, while saying I'm not going to claim I've mastered this "fully surrendered" thing, I'm excited to get there. Not to reach the silverware drawer, but to sit around with a cup of joe and spend time with the God who wants me. Just me. And to do works not to be used by Him, but to experience life and the joy his service brings alongside Him.

Thank you, Lord, that you are a God of relationship. You're not a taskmaster. I repent of the days when I try so hard to earn the affection you lavish on me just because. Let me experience more of you, more with you. Please don't let me miss out on this relationship because I'm doing things, or ever. All your love. And all mine.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Texts that Saved The Day

I don't know if you've read that book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day or not, but I hope so. It's a children's lit classic. And it was roughly what my day looked like yesterday.

I won't go into the why though much of it had to do with work, and at more than one point throughout, my day slid past terrible and into horrible range. Part of me wanted to give up and pout and was even a little jealous of kids young enough to pull of a tantrum without facing institutionalization. 

Disclaimer: While I do have to
carry a blackberry for work, I by
no means support their use. This
was the only texting picture I
could find that was free. So there
you go.
But, alas, I'm not that young anymore, and the Holy Spirit always elbows me in the conscience when I'm about to write off anything He's given me, including days. But I couldn't fix the things that were wrong, they were and are outside my control.  It was looking to be a hard, bleak Thursday.


Yesterday morning I got a text that my sister was praying for me. And then a few hours later texted with another friend who was praying for me. And then in the afternoon yet another friend texted out of the blue that she was praying for me!

Just knowing people are praying is amazing. I used to think it was more benevolent to pray without telling people so they wouldn't think (or maybe God wouldn't think...I don't remember exactly) that I was only doing it so I could sound virtuous.  But now I tell people. Because it is a huge comfort to know that someone else has chosen to spend time talking to God about you, that they care and he cares and you're in good hands.  And it's cool to know that God, knowing when you're trying your best but you've had it up to here and need some help praying through a thing, taps some of his other sons and daughters on the shoulder and asks them to help you out.

While my day didn't exactly get better until about 6:30 when I had a glass of wine and took part in a writing video chat, I kept thinking, what would have happened if people hadn't been praying? I may well be in a straight jacket right now.

Thank you, Lord, that it's a new day--and not just any new day, a Friday!--and that you are with me even in the bad ones. Thank you that prayer matters and for my wonderful friends who lifted me up. All my love.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


On this cold day in Dallas, where I will do much sitting in a conference room before driving home, I'm tempted to resent the day, to feel I must forebear with whatever grace I can muster.

And in the middle of these thoughts, God reminded me that this is the day that He has made. I should rejoice and be glad in it.  Which will require me getting humble and being grateful for the day I get to live at all, for the job I have that brought me here, that I remembered to bring a jacket, that tonight I get to sleep in my own bed, that I can go to Starbucks before we start today, that the Almighty cares enough about me to call me to gratitude, and that Jesus died to save me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Voice

I love plots. Love them. So I'm not a huge reality TV fan. If there is a plot it feels contrived.

But, yesterday I turned on the TV and The Voice was on. I do like the idea of this show, and hearing the judges banter is fun. I was muting it during commercials/background stories/coming-up-next-promos to work on my own plot, and unmuting when the contestant finally stepped on stage. Mostly it was interesting.

But a few times, well, it was that moment when your fingers stop moving, you stop speaking, thinking, blinking, and just listen as the sound builds shivers over your skin and down your spine and every now and then pricks the backs of your eyes.

I love that. That transient moment, unretainable and uniting, when something transcendent reaches past the barriers and noise and life and draws all those present into something deeper, true.

Me, I can carry a tune okay, and sound really good while drive-singing with the music super loud. But I will never make angels weep or flowers bloom or stars drop from the sky just to be nearer.  I think the best I can safely claim is that I won't kill rats or break glass.  But I'm okay with that, because I truly think I value those stellar voices so much more since they're out of my grasp. And I'm thankful that I got to hear some.

Thank you again and again for music and really good singers and for The Voice and the brave people who walk out onto stage and let it go. Thank you for the unifying dimension of music, for the variety. All my love.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Renegade Pants

This week saw me, the boys, and Dante the Charcoal Impala in OKC for Easter and work. Both went fine, but it felt good last night at 9:30 when we rolled to a stop at home. I did lug the boys and then my suitcase up two flights of stairs, but I did almost nothing else as far as unpacking/preparing for today.

Which was fine until this morning, as I scrambled to get ready on time and realized I didn't know what I had that was work appropriate and clean. As I twisted my hair into a knot I mentally shuffled through my options of cleanish clothes to assemble the most reasonable option. Unfortunately they were more ish than clean, it looked like my only choices were a dress or jeans. The heavy duty shoes I planned to wear to this manufacturing facility wouldn't exactly work with my dress, and jeans would be far across the casual line for work.

I made one last, semi-hopeful search through my closet for something to jump out and say, "wear me!" No clothing talked to me, but as I shoved aside unfit clothing, I found a quiet pair of black pants, clean and wrinkle free, ready to save the day.  They'd been hiding out for the last, oh, I don't know how long, and I'd forgotten I had them. And they're a pair I like, too! Needless to say I won't lose them again. Well, at least not any time soon. I threw a sweater on and wasn't even late as I left.

Today I'm thankful for renegade clean pants, and for casual Fridays so I can put off doing laundry at least one more day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I like to say I listened to Mumford & Sons before Everyone listened to Mumford & Sons. But, I'm pretty sure everyone likes to say that. Whatever the case may be, this British folk rock band is equal parts weird and wonderful, and their music, when you can decipher the words through a thick accent, has a spirituality that is blatant and poetic. (They do drop the occasional F bomb in some of their tunes which I'm okay with, but just be aware if you're about to go to iTunes and download their art.)  

A friend told me recently to listen to I Will Wait. Not only is it a great song to play loudly while driving with the windows down, but I looked up the lyrics and loved it all over again. They are simple and profound. Here are the lines that most captivate me.

Raise my hands,
Paint my spirit gold
Bow my head
Keep my heart slow.

The image of a spirit painted gold. That is what happens, what God does. What I want him to do. I tromp through the world splashing myself with mud and grime, sometimes because I stomp, sometimes because the road is just that grimy. Every now and then I trail my fingers through the muck to see what it is like and a few times I've been shoved down. I try and fix it myself and just end up smeary and panicked.

But in the presence of an Almighty who specializes in drawing beauty in unlikely places, my spirit is painted gold by the light of Him alone. Nothing is needed of me but to be there, be fallen upon. And the joy, the rest, it calls me to worship.

Thank you, Jesus, that you are a painter, a recycler, a rescuer. Thank you for music and color and hope. Thank you for British folk rock bands and for inspiring them to put in such simple words the most awesome experience available on this earth. All my love.