Megan Lebo

"Just be. Its what the world denies you" – Brandon Heath

Transparency…

I often find it difficult to write transparently about myself. I think that could be true of most but I can only speak for myself and my own circumstances. Facebook, I believe, has created an era of people who only show others what they want them to see. With a single serving status and a couple of cool or cute pictures you can fool the world into thinking pretty much what ever you want them to think about your life. An endearing shot of you and your kid smiling together for a selfie is sweet and tells the world how much you love your child and how much fun that child has with mommy or daddy. What the world doesn’t see is the fit that child threw in the grocery store because they were not handed the cookie that they so desperately wanted or the bruise on your arm where the little tyrant bit you out of anger.   The pictures of that brand new baby, so tiny, sleeping in your arms and you smiling so gently paints a picture of such perfection in a way that stirs in others a longing for the great blessings that God has bestowed upon you and your family with this new addition. Yet what the world doesn’t see is the struggle that you as a new mother are experiencing with post-partum depression or the lack of bond between you and your newborn. Or perhaps it’s an update about an exciting new show that you were cast in. With a couple of lines you express how excited you are to be part of a show that can boast of such a stellar cast. Yet what you don’t convey is that once again you have auditioned for a particular role and have lost out to the same, yes, the VERY same girl you’ve been losing roles and solos to since high school.

It is so rare nowadays to be honest, completely honest, with each other. I can honestly say that nobody really knows who I am, completely, as a person. (Or the fact that I frequently overuse commas without fully knowing whether they are appropriate or not. And now you can say you do, in fact, know that about me. But I digress…) A lot of people know some of who I am. I am a writer. A lot of people know that. I have strong views on life, faith, and politics, and I love music and theatre. A lot of people know that.

What a lot of people don’t know or realize about me is that I have some serious and deep-rooted issues with rejection and self doubt. Not many people realize that I frequently suffer from debilitating anxiety attacks that result in severe headaches for weeks following because of the way my muscles tense up during an episode or the fact that I am seemingly incapable of making serious decisions in my life because of an intense fear of making the wrong choices.

I’m just going to come right out and say it. My life right now is not ok.

I am not ok.

As a matter of fact my life is spinning out of control and I am barely, and I mean barely, holding on to my sanity. Truthfully the only sanity that I have right now is this play that I’m in and my writing. Yes, writing does help. It has a way of helping me sort through things that sit on my mind and psyche and allows me to process things a bit more objectively. Acting and singing affords me an energetic outlet and a distraction (and, might I add, much joy) but writing suddenly makes everything seem organized, formed, and within my control.

I lost my job back in July. The turmoil I have experienced since then has been immense. I had become complacent with where I was at in life. Not necessarily content but I was complacent. In truth this job that I had held for three years afforded me the ability to live in an area of town that I had always wanted to live in but allowed me no extra money. I had security but was bored and lonely. It was truly a dead end job that gave me no social connections and no hopes of achieving anything greater. I was grateful but ultimately unsatisfied.

In the last month and a half everything in my life has been uprooted and turned upside down. I’m losing my apartment because I have been unable to find a job. I’m having to move back to Hendersonville, away from the city with its life and vibrancy and back to the suburbs. I am confused, frustrated, and quite frankly pretty angry. No one should have to move back home at 30. I think what is most difficult for me in this whole situation is the feeling that I have failed.

No husband, no kids, no job, and no money. Congratulations Megan you have officially failed at life!

But sometimes the dust and chaos have to settle before you can see things properly. I have some serious personality flaws. I am an individual who has always had big dreams but unfortunately have always lacked the drive and discipline required to make these dreams a reality. I have never taken criticism well, in fact I tend to buckle easily underneath the weight of any kind of disapproval from anybody and I often give up before ever allowing myself the opportunity to overcome. These are things about me that have kept me stuck in a dead-end job for the last three years. So when my position was suddenly eliminated I found myself lost and frightened and was convinced of my complete failure and hopelessness.

But just as suddenly as the confusion had arrived I was hit with a moment of clarity. What am I doing with my life? What am I doing really? Yes, I had a job, and a room in a house in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Nashville. I was living life from 8-5 with no more goals or opportunities for growth. When I talked to people about my life it was always in the context of “this is what I’m doing for now” or “I would love to be doing…” and yet I never really pursued what it was I was telling people I wanted to pursue.

Being the good Christian girl that I am I began seeking God for direction. I knew I was unsatisfied and a bit unhappy so there must be something else that I’m supposed to be doing. One thing I have learned since graduating from seminary is that the knowledge of God’s sovereignty can often become a crutch in the life of a believer. Knowing He has a plan for your life can easily turn into living without trying. I had fallen prey to this idea of waiting around for God’s grand purpose in my life. I had convinced myself that somehow it would find me and I would just simply say yes and walk through that door. Part of that delusion is a result of the Hollywood, story-book culture that tells us that our purpose in life is stumbled upon or that love at first sight is to be expected. In reality true direction, purpose, and accomplishment is found through the blood, sweat, and tears of hard work, diligence, and discipline.

These three traits are not ones that have ever come naturally to me.

I can kind of compare my life to sitting on the edge of a pool with my feet dangling in the water. I continue to complain about being hot and I pine over how refreshing the water looks and feels on my feet but never actually make the decision to just jump in. What if it’s too deep or too cold? What if I can’t find my way back to the steps once I’m in? All I want to do is immerse myself in the water but instead I whine and banter until God finally walks up behind me and pushes me in.

Clarity. Suddenly I am overcome with clarity and know what I need to do.

I am beginning a new stage of life. Albeit, I’m a bit behind because apparently I’m just a little thick when it comes to hearing God clearly on the subject of my own life. But I have heard and am now responding. I’ll admit that I am one hundred percent scared to death. Words of doubt and predictions of failure are already flooding my conscience but I have resolved to push them down and move forward. I am ready to do what is necessary to succeed. I am willing to sacrifice things in my life to make these dreams and goals happen. I am refusing to be consumed with jealousy or self doubt. And I look forward to this year with anticipation and excitement!

I’m not really sure why I have felt compelled to write so candidly about myself. I don’t ever like to assume that people want to hear me drone on about my struggles and insecurities. Rehashing the depth of my humanity is certainly not something that I particularly enjoy. Perhaps it is simply the desire to be honest and transparent about myself for once. I don’t think it happens near enough in life anymore.

So I ask for your prayers as I begin this new and strange journey because I just don’t ask others to pray for me enough, and at the root of that is pride.   For the next year I am moving back home in order to pursue a life in theatre. I don’t really know why but I feel that God has opened that door and I’m ready now to walk through it. Pray for personal strength as it can be a world that sucks the life out of you. Pray for me spiritually as it can be a dark and worldly environment. Pray over my greatest weakness which is discipline and pray over the people I will meet and the relationships that I will develop.

“For whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

 

 

 

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The Quest for Living: Simplifying Our Faith…

I am tired.

My soul and psyche drained of life by the life that surrounds me.  Parasitic entities designed for market and consumption control that which should never have been given over.  At 29 years of age one should not feel so confused and cynical.  I was always under the impression that a college degree came in the shiny wrappings of clarity and purpose, and that cynicism was simply the gift of age.

I can’t be the only one out there that feels lost in the midst of a society driven by money, success, and fame.  Everyone fighting for their place, purpose, and mark in this world.  “We are the catalyst of change!  Become a better you!  Change the world in three easy steps!”  We’ve been fed some kind of line since the moment we were born.  We are as royalty and should be treated as such.  Live out your dream.

Do great things for God.

What has happened?  Where did we go?  How do we change?  In our efforts to make our children and ourselves someone great have we in fact planted a seed of disappointment and hopelessness to those of us who may never see that greatness?  Are we fostering a generation of people who have lost the ability to just live?

I think we have.

I think this influence, this mindset, while fairly obvious in the secular, pop culture world of our day has, in subtlety, begun to seep into our churches and has ultimately impacted our personal and spiritual intimacy with God.

I candidly admit that I am one of the restless.

I like to write, therefore in my mind I have often set forth to become a prolific and successful writer.  I love to sing so of course nothing less than a professional, well paid singing career will do.  I also love stage acting therefore I must be destined to move to NYC and become the next Broadway star.  I love travelling, I love people, and I love sharing the gospel through words and service which means God must have great plans for me to be an overseas missionary.  I’m supposed to change the world.

Greatness.  Has this lovechild, born from the god of self, been clothed in priestly robes and given a seat upon a throne in our own sanctuaries?

The more I think about it the more I am convinced it has.  I fear that we have made our faith an object of glamor, and our service and personal walk with God an object of fame. All of this under the guise of living out loud and doing great things for God.

Whatever happened to just living for God?  Wait, let’s pull that back even further and ask the question “Whatever happened to just living?”.

Who would have ever imagined that the lives of Amish communities and fishermen, oil riggers and pageant moms, would ever be considered lives of glamor and fame.  Before the era of reality television who ever cared?  Yet here we are, in the year 2013, a culture of  “greatness”.  Its not enough now to just live quiet lives of normalcy.

I love listening to my mom tell stories from her youth.  A child of the 60’s and 70’s.  A product of a small, close knit town in Indiana she often recounts her memories of neighborhood block parties, summer romances, and youth camp in Colorado.  The town was a community and churches were family.  This was a time when people, families, and children just lived.  It wasn’t until the 80’s and 90’s, with the introduction of MTV and Nintendo that we began to really see a shift in corporate social behavior.  Our kids began spending more time indoors and the worship of fantasy and celebrity really began to settle in as norm among youth.

I think we have reached a time when the things that stream out of popular culture should no longer surprise us or take us off guard.  Yet more pressing and more concerning is the fact that the impact and influence of our culture has permeated the walls of some of our churches.  This intrusion has now secularized the holiness of worship and has complicated the simplicity of our faith and how we live it out on a daily basis.

Sometimes I feel as though I am drowning in a sea of ambition and service without a real sense of power and joy.  This leads me to ask the question, has our service and role in the Church lost its joy and authenticity?  Has it become simply an exercise in survival?  Are our over-spiritualized Facebook statuses and tweets merely a lifeline that we cling to in order to feel assured of what we fear we might be missing out on?

Or worse, what we fear we might be losing.

While I cannot speak for the spiritual walk of others I can say that I have found these questions to be answered in my own life with a resounding yes.  Still I do believe that God gives his people a measure of discernment when it comes to the Church.  I will say that I sense, not just in others but also in my own life, that something is off.   And like I said earlier, I fear that it has to do with the influence and impact that our culture has had on the life and pursuits inside the walls of the church.

In Jerusalem there is a church called The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  This church is purportedly the site of the resurrection of Jesus.  I remember, during one of my trips to Israel, visiting this church simply for its historicity.  From the moment I walked in I remember every one of my senses being assaulted by the sounds, sights and smells that emanated from this relatively small sanctuary.  There were droves of people there, many of which were church officials performing ritualistic prayers and chants.  There were candles and incense and quite simply more stimulation going on than one person can mentally or emotionally handle.  I left about as quickly as I arrived and never even made it to the part of the church that housed the rock that supposedly experienced the resurrection of Jesus.

It grieves me to admit that this is often how I feel entering the doors of our own churches.  Overwhelmed by stimulation and confusion, I struggle to find a place and a source of unencumbered and uncomplicated joy and purpose.  In short, I feel that I have lost sight of God’s face and the purity of His essence in the midst of all that the modern Church calls worship.  Now let me be clear.  I am not saying that those who find a way to participate in what we consider “great impact” are in any way wrong or misguided.  On the contrary I find it exciting and God glorifying when He chooses to use us in ways that have maximum impact on our church and culture.  But at the same time, it is easy to forget that often things done in earnest and passion can also be made an object of idolatry in our lives.  When what we do and how we do it becomes the focus of our walk and ministry then I think we can safely say that our focus off.

In first Thessalonians 4 Paul instructs us in how we ought to walk and please God that we will “excel still more.” (v.1)  Paul uses this phrase “to excel still more” again in verse 10 leading up to verse 11 which says, “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend your own business and work with your hands just as we commanded you.”

Quiet lives.  Attending our own business.  Working with our hands.  This is what Paul refers to as excelling.  For me I find this incredibly encouraging!  For me this means that I may not be not be missing out on some great plan that God has for me simply by working a nine to five job with the occasional extra-curricular.

When was the last time you had coffee with your next door neighbor?  Maybe your child’s best friend has a troubled home and simply needs a place to come and unwind and escape for a few hours.  Or perhaps you’ve been noticing that a coworker has been keeping to themselves a lot lately.  Have you asked them to go to lunch with you?

I think this is the part of our Christian walk that we have set aside to make room for our personal aspirations of “greatness” in the Church.  Somehow we have convinced ourselves that there are greater works and there are lesser works.  I fear that part of the reason we continue to see a decline within the present generations in respect to Church is because we have forgotten how to simply be a community and have made our ambitions and our aspirations of greatness an object of worship.

Fellow believers, we must evaluate our hearts!   We must strip away the noise in order to truly see and experience God’s presence and power again.  We must get back to His Word and let it consume and transform us.  Our efforts and ministry must flow not from our desires to do great things for God but from his desires to do his work in and through us.  For some that may look like the foreign mission field.  But for others it’s the unseen acts of listening to, caring for, and having coffee with a co-worker.  Those acts we would simply call living while God sees them as living for him.  We need to let go of our ideas and pursuits of greatness and let God work in us the way he always has, in our life and relationships.  Only then will we ever see how great his Glory can truly be!

Our Crossroads…

We are at a crossroads.  Our nation.  Our world.  Our lives.

I have been watching closely, praying.  The urgency and anxiety experienced by the people during this election has seemed unprecedented.  There are issues that hang in the balance that I believe are more grave than social agendas and demands.  I believe this choice, this year, will change the course of our nation forever.  There are things that, if put into motion, cannot be reversed, will not be reversed.

Yet despite my own anxiety and the anxiety of others around me I have arrived at a state of peace.  This election is decided.  The future course of our nation has been set.  The outcome will show to us whether God has decided to act in mercy or in judgment.

It is so difficult to watch the news and discern what might happen, which path we as a nation have decided take.  There are so many half-truths, misleadings, and outright dishonesty among the media and the candidates that it is hard to see and vote with a clear head.  Each one claiming the other is lying.

In the midst of such confusion there is only one source in which we are able to find direction, comfort, and peace.

God’s Word.

Proverbs 21:1 says:

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord.  He turns it wherever He wishes.”

We are also instructed by is Word in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“(If) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

We are being called to repentance as a nation.  We have been blessed by God to have lived and grown up in a nation that has been civilized, wealthy, and free.  We know what the fall of a nation looks like.  We have history that bears witness to that progression.  We have the freedom to choose but ultimately the times belong to God.  He sees and He knows.

Therefore I am at peace.  And in that peace I echo the prophet Daniel:                                                                                                 
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.  It is He who changes the times and epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.  It is he who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.  To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise…”

 

 

 

We are at war…

Its hard to even know where to begin.

My heart, to the depths of my being, is broken and weeping over a world, a society, that I used to hold as my own with a sense pride and privilege.  We were a country of beauty, of opportunity, and of freedom.   At the birth of this once great country Thomas Jefferson spoke of a nation, a government that would not only prohibit anyone in society from infringing upon the liberty of other individuals, but would also restrain itself  from diminishing individual liberty.  “Unalienable rights” was the term coined by Jefferson himself in order to express the vision that the founding fathers had for this new land.  Every person had the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  This is what has separated our country from so many others throughout history.

And now a civil war is brewing amongst ourselves over these very rights and freedoms.  The freedom to live as we choose, to use our money as we choose, to worship as we choose has subtly, over the years, been slipping right through the hands of the people into the hands of a small collective who desire (or more strongly, crave) in their hearts political, social and religious genocide.  Private businesses no longer have the freedom to support and put their own money into organizations of their choosing.  Their “choices” now have to conform to what that collective say they need to be.

There is an overarching ideology and worldview, which has consumed so many, that feels the need to purify the world from religion.  No.  Not religion.  Judeo-Christian beliefs.  This war that is raging against conservative and faith based lifestyles is rooted not in liberation or tolerance but pure, unadulterated hate.

Hate.  A word used in such abundance but yet never recognized in its purist form.

Faith based college organizations are now being forced to allow individuals who do not share their core beliefs to hold office within the groups in the name of non-discrimination.  Teachers can no longer participate in student led prayer times that occur on campus outside of school hours for fear of making other non religious students or students of other religions feel ostracized.  Private business are being bullied, threatened, and forced to conform or be shut down simply because they privately support organizations that hold to a different belief than the said small collective.

What I find even more interesting (and significantly more disturbing) is how freedom is being taken away from a peaceful conservative faith and how tolerance, liberty, and even national rights is given to the ones that breed hate, violence, and war.

I fear for our country and our people in a way that I can barely express in words.  It’s a penetrating fear, like the cold you feel in a rainstorm during the winter months.  It’s a chill that goes straight to the bone.  The stage is being set for dark and dangerous days.  And as I watch the news and see the deep darkness in the eyes of those who are rioting in hatred and malice, killing those who stand in their way, I no longer feel the distance that I once felt from the rest of the world.  I no longer offer myself comfort in the knowledge that things like that happen in other countries but not this one.  As I watch and process I can almost physically feel a dark angel creeping into our midst, growing larger and stronger.  But that hatred is no longer confined to the obvious groups of blatant terrorism.  It has seeped silently into the liberal ideals that are single handedly destroying our nation.  It is moral corruption and lawlessness that has become a breeding ground for more dangerous circumstances.  It has been an open door for political corruption and weakness.  Our national defenses have been weakened.  We are setting ourselves up to be ruled by a power that we may never have the ability to remove.  When you begin dictating how a people should use their money and time, when you take away their freedom to choose, when you blot out their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” you have laid the groundwork for a dictatorship and ultimately oppression of the masses.

This is where we are heading!

Wake up from your slumber!  Listen to Who is calling you and turn from darkness.  Our only hope is Salvation!  We must open our eyes.

Surprise by Jars of Clay

Shoot a dream in your arm and sleep away
It’s not the stuff that kills you, that keeps your life at bay
Every crash pulls you in reach
Of a watershed of signal flares that cover your beach

These are just placebos to make us feel all right
Illusions in our pockets make our feather float us high
For a second I thought I saw you eyelids rise
A moment, something restless caught you by surprise,
Surprise, surprise

We are so beautiful when we sleep
Hearts of gold and eyes so deep, deep, deep
But love won’t cure the chaos
And hope won’t hide the loss
And peace is not the heroine that shouts above the cause
And love is wild for reasons
And hope though short in sight
Might be the only thing that wakes you by surprise
Surprise, surprise

Dream little one
See the world just begun

Love is wild for reasons
And hope feels short in sight
Might be the only thing that brings you back to life
For a moment I thought I saw your eyelids rise

Surprise, surprise, surprise…

On hate, hypocrisy, and love…

I find it difficult to reconcile the complexity of emotion surging in my blood, barreling through me like river waters through canyon walls. When is it ok to choose anger over grace, boldness over passivity? At what point are we allowed or even commissioned to venture beyond the boundaries of tolerance into the territories of justice.

Hate has no reason and hypocrisy no shame.

The voices of those who cry out for tolerance and acceptance, the ones who demand the freedom of individuality, now demand of others not tolerance and acceptance but compliance and change. They fight not for the freedom of individuality but for rule and uniformity.

There exists not one individual on the face of this earth whose views are left untainted by personal belief and conviction. Unbiased, in the context of individual thought and intention is a false descriptor. It is impossible to maintain an unbiased opinion when it comes to personal beliefs. We all have a moral compass that guides our decisions and our perceptions.

To demand the closure of a business based solely on the fact that they are a business of faith and choose to channel their profits into faith based charities and organizations is morally and ethically corrupt. To demand of a people not tolerance but full on support of a lifestyle they cannot uphold, whether for reasons religious or personal, denies our freedoms not just as Americans but as human beings.

Do churches walk into gay bars demanding that a portion of their proceeds be given to religious organizations? That would be absurd! So to demand that a place be boycotted and shut down because of religious affiliation should be considered bigotry and persecution.

Now I am not ignorant. I am fully aware of like actions that come out of so-called church environments. WestboroBaptistChurch, whom we have all become familiar with in the last few years, is a prime example of a people filled not with the love of their creator but with hatred and evil. I am also aware of other church environments and individuals who profess to be warriors of the faith but in fact only act in ignorance and emotion.

So what is our answer? How do we stop spinning these circles? At some point we need to just agree to leave each other alone.

Both sides.

So to those who do not embrace faith I say, “live your life!” Continue to fight for your cause in a way that will not infringe upon my freedom as person and an American. Share with me whatever truth you hold on to but don’t force me to embrace or support your lifestyle because I have every right to disagree.

To the church, I simply direct you to Romans 1:18-32. A wise believer knows when to fight and when to finally lay down the sword. As the passage makes clear, even God eventually gives people over to the lusts of their hearts. We need to ask ourselves if the time has come to turn our backs and leave the world as a whole to its own self destruction. Because Christ’s kingdom is ours through our salvation in Him, we will not have dominion over the kingdom of this world.

With that said, we are still responsible for sharing Christ’s love and salvation with people. While we may lay down our efforts for changing the course of our nation or our world as a whole we should NEVER give up on the individuals that God has or will bring into our lives to minister to.

So I say, be gracious and full of God’s love, share with those whom God places in your path, and leave the rest to their ways. Speak up, be bold and fight for your freedom but turn your backs on Sodom lest you yourself be caught up in their judgment.

Read the book of Ephesians and be encouraged! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

Vanity of Vanities!

I never realized that you could gain so much knowledge and still have so little understanding.

Years ago I, like Solomon, asked God for wisdom and discernment.  My desire to distinguish between the wisdom of God and the foolishness of man was strong and I wanted to always be able to know what was right and to have the ability to choose.  While certainly nowhere even close to the wisdom of King Solomon, who God endowed with wisdom that no man on earth apart from Jesus would ever match, I do believe that God blessed me with a certain amount of wisdom and discernment as I had asked of him.

But there is a difference between possessing wisdom and understanding it.

With the gift of knowledge and wisdom comes an insatiable desire to unwrap the intricacies and meaning of every circumstance in life.  For knowledge demands reason.  But reason cannot comprehend or traverse the muddy waters that is a life of faith.  For faith denies reason, that is, the reason that demands understanding.

Faith by definition is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen.  (Hebrews 11:1)

But reason is ruled by the senses.  To see, to touch, to hear, to smell, to taste.  Faith, you see, is not confined to the five senses that so dominate how we perceive the world around us.  Faith demands that sixth sense which we have been told by the world cannot exist.

And so engaged, is a life of faith, in a bitter battle with reason.

I believe this battle that rages between our faith and our reason has everything to do with the act of dying to self as Jesus commands us to do in Luke 9:23.

To know, to understand, is a desire deep within our being that is rooted in the desire to be the god of our own lives.  It’s a possessive emotion that stands before God and says “You are not enough!  I have to have more.  More knowledge, more understanding, more control, more power.”  In essence it is our desire to be God.  It is telling Him that our ways should be higher and that our understanding should be greater.

That lust for greatness and power was the driving force that preceded the fall of heaven’s most glorious being, and ultimately what drove Adam and Eve in the garden to fall from perfection into a life of destruction.

So by Solomon’s side I cry Vanity of Vanities!  All is vanity.  Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.  For in the end, when all has been heard, we are to simply fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person.  For everything which is hidden, whether good or evil, God will ultimately bring to judgment.  (Ecclesiastes 1:2,18; 12:13-14)

Remembering George…

He was strong, tender, and he loved us all.

It’s funny the things you remember.  I strive, with much difficulty, to remember which roads I have to turn on in the city I have spent my entire life.

But I remember him.

I remember the sound of his voice.  I remember how he laughed.  He laughed a lot.  As a matter of fact the last memory I hold of him is his laughter.  It’s not the incessant drone of the beeping heart monitor.  It’s not the sterile, cold smell of the hospital room or the needles in his arm feeding his ailing body.

No.

It’s the picture of his smile and the sound of his laughter as we are all gathered around him joking and listening to Alex making fun of Aunt DD as he so often does.

For someone who possessed such a collection of sordid childhood memories, he was a man who chose to experience life with joy.

We have always been a close family and we have always been full of such life, with personalities that are strong as they are diverse.

And we loved him dearly.

I remember fondly the little things.  He loved spending time with all of us.

He used to take is teeth out in front of us out of the sheer joy and pleasure he received from seeing his grandkids squeal, giggle, and then ask him to do it again!

He built things with the boys.  He watched with excitement the fashion shows and the talents shows in which we used jokes that we actually got from him.  He came to hear me sing.  He came to see Alex’s soccer games.  He helped us paint the house and he helped us stain the woodwork.

And the year that he died he had hiked through the Rocky Mountains with us.

Even in the memories where he was not directly involved I still remember him there.  He was always there.

He always kept Werther’s Caramels in his pockets and on his dresser.  He always drank his coffee out of the same brown mug.  He made off color jokes and then would laugh and cover his mouth.

He loved his girls and he loved his grandkids.

And I miss him.

He lived this life to the fullest but life does not end on this earth and I anticipate the day when I will be in fellowship with him again.

And I look forward to the day when I hear his laugh again in the fullness of the joy of the Lord that can only be experienced on the other side of life.

Your move…

It’s a strange feeling knowing that you’re on the edge of something.  The anticipation of revelation or even the progression of it is an exciting event.  It is strange and somewhat liberating to be so self aware…and not just self aware but also aware, with heightened sensitivity, of others.

If you ask me, I like knowing.

It’s the uncertainty that drives me into fits of anxiety.  Once I am aware then I am at peace and can move forward and act with clarity and precision.

I’m learning how to play the game.

What game you ask?  Well, I’ll admit that I am attempting to be vague and mysterious on purpose.  It’s just more fun this way.

I really do not like being a novice.  It makes me feel insecure, vulnerable, and dependent.  While I had for so long desired (desperately I might add) such change in my life I admit that the idea of actual change terrified me.  I had not realized how incredibly comfortable I had become with how my life was running.  I had embraced my current standing and had owned it as an identity.  But I have ventured into a new arena and the game has changed.  And I have come to realize that I can actually be a player.

Ok, that’s not what I meant.  (You all have dirty minds.)  I was speaking metaphorically.

Like the game of chess I have begun to learn the strategies and techniques that make this fun, challenging, and exciting. I have also learned to relax.

To wait.

I do not know what the outcome will be.  The game may be over already and if that’s the case, well, that’s ok.  But how long does one wait on the field?  I really don’t know.

All I know is that  I’d really like to keep playing…its just not my move anymore.

Redemption…

As I reflect back on the last couple of years I grieve over time that seems to me wasted and meaningless.

But is anything ever meaningless?

Maybe the hardships allow us to appreciate and see clearly the times of abundance.  Maybe the emptiness of a barren wilderness allows for proper fulfillment when you reach the land of plenty.

Its an incredible feeling, coming to the end of a dry and desolate road, looking out onto the flourishing landscape that now lies ahead of you.  So what is gained from that time spent in darkness and desolation?  What is it we find that gives meaning to such cunfusion and emptiness?

Redemption.

Everything in our lives plays out this drama, for we discover that there was never anything within ourselves to give us direction, strength, or endurance along this road.  The truth we find and the reality we can now embrace is that we were never really lost and we were never really forgotten.  Our lives were merely playing out the beautiful picture of redemption.

We were always Yours and You never lost sight of where we were.  You brought us home.

Redemption by Jars of Clay

We made it to a strange town

Going down the wrong road

Like any story retold

Couldn’t find a common ending

We’re way gone, be gone, looking for our own way

We needed a distraction

You said you were redemption

We knew it as a wrong turn

We couldn’t know the things we’d gain

When we reach the other border

We look out way down past the road we came from

We’re looking for redemption

It was hidden in the landscape

Of loss and love and fire and rain

Never would have come this way

Looking for redemption

We were looking out past the road we came from

Looking at redemption

Hidden in the landscape

Of loss and love and fire and rain

Never would have come this way

Looking for redemption

In the eyes of sorrow, eyes of rage

What a sordid histories they played

The drama of redemption

Redemption

Every girl is a little bit crazy…

I’m not that great at expressing myself with people.

I’m a writer.  I feel much more comfortable behind a pen or a keyboard.  In writing, the risk of saying things you will regret is much slimmer.  One can think and craft and filter words so that they say exactly what it is you want to express in the most elegant way possible.

Writing is sort of like acting in a way.  Except that you are not becoming the best possible version of someone else, but the best possible version of yourself.

My insecurities on a day to day basis plague me like gnats.  Sometimes I feel like the most insecure woman on the planet.  I worry that I’m not fun or whimsical enough.  I worry about boring people with the things I like to talk about like music, faith, art, and movies.

I worry about not being pretty enough.

I fret over letting someone get to know me better because I am so afraid that I won’t be what they expected.  I also stress that by caring so much about what someone thinks of me I’m not caring enough about that other person.

It a never ending game that oscillates between being needy and giving back.

I used to watch the show Scrubs.  There was an episode once where one of the main female characters, Elliot, started dating this guy named Paul.  She was terrified of letting all her “crazy” come out in front of him.  She would say to her friends, “I don’t know that I can hide the crazy from Paul much longer!”  So the whole episode she was putting on this façade of being in control.  She wanted him to think she had it all together and that she was calm, cool, collected and refined.  When he would leave she would turn to her friend and begin a shrill, high pitched, panicked rant about how she wasn’t good enough.  By the end of the episode she couldn’t hold it in any longer and all her “crazy” exploded in front of him in one emotional display.

I think every girl has a bit of crazy in her that she tries to hide and cover up out of the fear of scaring off the people she meets.

Its silly I know but its reality.

And maybe I’m really not as crazy as I feel sometimes.  I think the “crazy” that we all talk about is just our own insecurities that to everyone else is just the aspects of you that make you you!

I believe its important to reassure those around you.  Compliment them, draw attention to their strengths and laugh at the craziness.  Be honest with yourself and others.

It’s the honesty in life and relationships that create an environment of comfort and the craziness that makes life fun and excititng!