Friday, February 18, 2011

Elmo Worship?...Oh yikes!

For the past two Friday afternoons, I've had the privilege of going through some training in Strategic Futuring (yes, it's a word) and in StrengthsQuest. The first is a process by which you envision your life 15 years in the future and then outline strategic steps to make that future a reality, and let me tell you, the next 15 years look amazing! :) The second is an assessment tool developed by the Gallup organization to identify key talent themes in your life. For example, my themes are activator, achiever, individualization, futuristic, and learner....I know, surprise, surprise, right?
Anyway, it's been awhile since I've pushed myself to do this sort of intentional reflection and envisioning and it is making me incredibly thankful for the blessings in my life and excited about what the future holds. It is also giving me little bits of courage to take steps to explore and create.
One of the things I've been exploring is some different music. Just taking time to sit and listen or have it intentionally playing in the background. It makes a big difference in my mood and meditation, etc. I've been creating a playlist on Grooveshark of my favorite worship songs, which might not be a big deal for most people, but for me each of the songs are especially beautiful or touching so I only have about 10 right now.
I've been listening to these about every other day on my way to work. After dropping Elliot off two days ago, I was driving to work, listening to "Megan's God Tunes" and singing along. "You're Beautiful", "Dearly Loved", "Emphasis", "My Redeemer Lives", "In Christ Alone." I'm having a beautiful time of worship and then I catch myself in the middle of "la la la la, la la la la, Elmo's Song." Yes, singing out loud! I was brainlessly singing Elmo's Song on my way to work.
Grooveshark had just automatically gone on to the next playlist, "Elliot's Songs." I sat and laughed at myself for awhile. Then I called Evan and he laughed at me.
I think that sometimes in life, we just drift into this space that isn't really ours but we keep living right along with it and then all of a sudden we realize, "What am I doing here? Whose song is this? Why am I living this way?"
I guess what I'm trying to say is that no matter how funny it is, Elmo worship, just isn't all! And neither is singing anyone else's life song or unconsciously drifting into a space where you don't have to live intentionally anymore.
So if you had to envision your life in 15 years what would it look like? What are you doing now to make that happen? Cause I'm pretty sure you don't want to drift into 2026 and wonder "What am I doing here? Whose song is this?"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Of breath and dust

Broken then separated by shoots of green
that push through you and grow toward the sun
Lifeless and brown and spoken to be
You lie under the sky and beside the sea

OH breathless dust - unfashioned, unformed

Transformed by hands with care and intention
Animated to live and love and explore
Breath-filled and whole with imagination
Running, laughing, singing, dancing on a beautiful sphere
with a God who came near

OH breath-filled - dust rebellious, so proud

Do you ever dream about where you came from?
And know someday you will return?
Because of a choice and a curse and a lie,
Brown and breathless on the ground
Unnoticed - clinging to feet, sandals, and boots

OH breathless dust - judged wanting and lost

But dream again with eyes open this time
And you'll see your God who came near
All you notice at first are His fleshy two feet
They're blood-stained and scarred and breathless dust-caked
And you hurry to wash them with tear after tear after tear

You know what He did and you know what it cost
To breathe life again into dust that was judged wanting and lost
"Does He resent me?" you wonder "Surely the cost was too much
For my sin and my shame, my death and my dust!"

Then His transforming hands, familiar and strong
Hold you close with care and intention
And you hear Him speak with His voice and his breath
In your ear, "You're lavishly loved!
You're special to me!
Dear one, you're forgiven. I've redeemed you.
You're free!"

Life bursts through your soul
When His breath hits your being.
You go running and laughing,
Dancing and singing, with Yahweh, your Yahweh
Your breath-filling King
All through the sky and on top of the sea

OH plank-filled eye
OH sin-filled self
Forgotten, covered, rescued
OH breath-filled life and dustless you
Alive and radiant and free

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dearly Loved

Dearly Loved
Jimmy Needham

Please lay down your arrows
For they're sure to pierce the skin
And water from a broken well
Will make you thirst again
When all things you've acquired
Are tested by the flames
And you can see them melting
Then will you call his name

It's worth it brothers
It's worth it friends
To know your maker
To lose your sin
Did you know that you are dearly loved

To the slaughters you are being led
Being told that it's a party
That this God is in your head
And every single lie
Sounds just like the greatest truth
But the one truth you're not hearing
Is that he died for you

No greater joy
No greater peace
No greater love than this

It's worth it brothers
It's worth it friends
To know your maker
To lose your sin
Did you know that you are dearly loved

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 63:3-4

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1a

"When I hear people talking about love like it's the latest, greatest flavor of cotton candy, I get very nervous and suspect we are not talking about the same thing."
Jen Lee

This is a new favorite song of mine, moving me to tears because of the reality of its truth. My dear sister Sarah sent me this last quote a couple weeks ago and it deeply resonated with my heart. I feel that love is one of the most misunderstood and shallowly represented constructs within our world. And the thing that astonishes me the most is that people seem to be okay with that. The devasting thing is that when I try to describe love to other people, I find that my proclamation of this truth leaves much to be desired. Yet I look around me as see people, as C.S. Lewis did, happy to be playing with "love mud pies" when a holiday in a sea of love is afforded to them. And I have to conclude with him that we are "far too easily pleased."
Recently the university I work at had an essay contest among the faculty called, "Why I Teach." As I pondered when or not to submit something I thought back and forth about why I teach, why I lead, etc. It's not because I have vast amounts of knowledge to impart or am even close to being able to use my life experiences as vicarious sources of learning. It is because I believe that the greatest, sweetest truth that everyone needs to learn is that they are DEARLY LOVED - specifically, intentionally, uniquely, dearly loved by God. And I believe so strongly that anything that is truth will point to this life altering, soul filling reality. So I teach the truth I know and I lead for change that eliminates lies and darkness because people must know that they are dearly loved.
My life has been a learning laboratory for love, and I hope that it continues to be. One reason that the truth of love is so difficult to articulate is because it's often deeply felt rather than only cognitively processed. The limbic system in our brains (bear with me here) is the physical seat of our emotions and drives. It is full of feeling and not rationality, passion and not logic. And it isn't anywhere near our brain's cortex (where cognition is processed) or Broca & Wernicke's areas (where we develop language and the articulation of our ideas). And so in my little life laboratory, when I see or hear or read or look at something that can connect the all of those areas in my head and empower passion with knowledge and ignite logical truth with fervor, I most often just start crying. Because what my heart felt as true and my mind knew as true connect and fill my soul with the light of truth. And almost always that truth is that I am dearly loved, incredibly unworthy, and miraculously redeemed.
Last night, Pat Terenzini in his opening remarks at our conference said that learning or education is "not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." So while I still feel that my words above are shallow and disjointed, I guess my observation and question to you is this. We are all learning and teaching and following and leading, but what fire are you spreading? Because, in case you didn't know my brothers and sisters... are SO DEARLY LOVED! 


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