“The puny plot …

“The puny plot of the story was so thin, however, when compared to the deep mystery through which we were groping, and I found my attention wander so constantly from the fiction to the fact, that I at last flung it across the room, and gave myself up entirely to a consideration of the events of the day.” -Dr. Watson, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,
The Boscombe Valley Mystery

With a work load creating a roller coaster of emotions, thoughts, and reactions, I came home, poured a bowl of cereal (my favorite comfort food), grabbed a few books, and headed to the patio with a golden retriever in tow.  A relaxing night was ahead of me.  My roommate and I shared a few stories and then I settled in, ready to lose myself in someone else’s world for a bit. 

As I was engaging with Holmes and Watson on their journey, this quote jumped out of the page at me.  There it was centered in the middle of the page, probably overlooked by the average reader.  A few weeks ago, I probably would have just read over it as well, trying to get to the meat of the mystery, while being immersed in the sarcasm of Holmes. 

But this week was different.  I found myself doing the very thing Watson did.  I closed the book (I didn’t fling it across the room, because, well, it’s one of my favorites) and “gave myself up entirely to the consideration of the events of the day.” 

And, week for that matter.  Weeks, actually.

Everyday is a different day and I’m realizing what a unique life I get to live.  Today I participated in a drum circle, discussed proper confrontation, processed through potential clients, and ate pork rinds just to disgust one of my staff.  Yesterday, I investigated fire codes, had a monologue complete with off-stage participants, and found myself wondering what was behind the curtain without really wanting to know (this is a long story for another day, trust me!).  Each day holds a new experience!

So, like Watson in this moment I had to choose:  fiction (a Sherlock Holmes mystery or perhaps my Eleanor and Park setting next to it) or fact (processing my real life experiences)?

If I choose fiction, I get to be immersed in a new, unique world full of colorful characters full of hope or despair, confidence or fear.

If I choose fact, I get to be immersed in a new, unique world full of colorful characters full of hope or despair, confidence or fear.

If I choose fiction, I get to picture what the characters might feel, think, act, but if I choose fact I get to relive watching a Peruvian Sister dance around the family room playing her instrument she had in her car, or laugh as each person awkwardly or energetically finding a rhythm they could play.  If I choose fact, I may have to replay sitting with a potential client who couldn’t seem to engage and whose mother anxiously moved around the apartment.  If I choose fact, I get to make life my own movie, my own story, my own art.

So tonight I choose fact…tomorrow will probably be fiction.

I think I’m giving up modern church for my traditional roots!

church pic

I think I’m giving up modern church to go back to my traditional roots.  Today, like most people, I found myself setting in the old school pews I grew up in.  So many things were familiar from the missionary trunk filled with goodies setting in the foyer to the buzzer sounding to let us know that it was ok to go into the sanctuary. 

The entire family was there and the Wisdom/Ellis pew was overflowing.  I caught myself taking my shoes off to see if the dark blue carpet still felt the same as it did when I was a little girl setting in the floor coloring.  I walked around the room hugging and kissing the same way I did when I was 7 and 12 and 16, remembering how each of them influenced me spiritually in some way. 

In the midst of the remembrance, and the peaceful home feeling, there was also a small glimmer of apprehension.  You see…I’ve been trained, perhaps unintentionally, in recent years to expect the bells and whistles; to think that true, authentic Christianity comes from the newest, modern worship and expository preaching that would make John Piper proud.  And those pastors who still wear suits…forget about it! 

But today, instead of being focused on what was wrong with this “traditional” service, I was shaken with what was right.  As we walked in the front door, we were bombarded with people.  There was barely room to stand because everyone had congregated together to chat.  And, we weren’t excluded.  Everyone came to greet and/or meet us.  It wasn’t hokey or awkward.  There was no hesitation, or guarded handshakes.  They asked genuine questions about our life, how are day was, and what we would be having for Easter Dinner. 

I loved watching my mom smile with pride as we all piled in to set next to her.  Her nieces and nephews surrounded her, as the adults took the end slots. 

There was no dimming of lights to signal we were getting started, the musicians simply started playing.  My face lit up as I watched Uncle Buddy on the Bass, Margaret on the organ, and Ted on the guitar.  It was just as I remembered it, especially as Travis headed up to the drums.  Memories flooded back from sunday school class, youth trips, and lots of prayer.  And, I was a little surprised that after all these years, I could still remember every word to “Because He Lives.” 

Next, was the solo.  The track didn’t work!  Not only did it not work, but it made a creepy sound.  Surprisingly, nobody turned to look and judge the poor sound guy (because we know its always their fault).  The soloist waited patiently and made a few jokes.  The sound guy tried a few times, each time the sound getting more and more odd, even getting an exclamation from Jace of, “It sounds like an alien invasion.”  

The soloist and the musicians then just decided to wing it.  I forgot how talented they were.  She started singing and they just started one by one jumping in to play.  I think it made it more special! 

And, the sermon reminded me of what I missed with Pentecostal services.  Each word getting more and more excited.  I later had to answer Jace’s question of, “why was that guy yelling at us when he talked.” 

I loved the family of it all!

I loved the way community just happened naturally!

I loved that even in my sunday best I felt relaxed, comfortable, and at home!    

Faith = Freedom

Faith = Freedom

I have to admit that I meet most Sunday mornings with a little bit of apprehension. My thoughts and feelings are so often met with what can only be labeled at this point as the cliché of modern US church, “my last experience was so bad.” The phrase so many of my friends, peers, and family express week after week as the debate to go to church grows, sometimes in intensity and sometimes in indifference. We hold to excuses, so we don’t have to address the reality that the place that once provided security and love, has now been contorted to be something more like anxiety and hurt.

But, I’ve started making the deliberate choice to go, regardless of what my heart feels, or the sickness it brings. I choose to go when I’m tired or feel like it’s unnecessary. I go when my heart and my mind can’t seem to match up. Sometimes it’s literally one foot in front of the other.

This past Sunday was my third time visiting a church. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, the knot in my stomach appeared and I let the deep sigh exhale.

As I opened my door, I was met with an excited, “Hey guys, watch this!” Of course I turned toward the excited voice, how could you not? I was met by a small girl, probably about 5, in a cute little red dress holding a skateboard. In just a moment, she took off running with the skateboard, going downhill on her belly. The whole way down the hill she was yelling, “cowabunga!” We all stood with big smiles on our faces, experiencing what can only be described as “the perfect moment.”

In that moment of carefree abandonment, a little girl reminded me of what faith was suppose to be, freedom. Faith is often expressed as the opposite, set up as a checklist of items to cross off as I accomplish them – if I study enough theology, if I post enough faith comments on social media, if I attend enough services – I have faith.

But faith is going downhill on our bellies being carefree in the middle of risk. Faith is freedom. Faith is studying theology because I’m so inspired by a complex God. Faith is posting as a tangible expression of my love of God. Faith is attending services because I genuinely love the people God has place in my life and I can’t wait to share that life with them.

Faith = Freedom!
*Thank you to the little girl in the red dress for reminding me of what faith truly is. My prayer for you is that you never lose the carefree, risk-taking attitude.

Turbulence sometimes shakes us up!

Turbulence sometimes shakes us up!
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” -Peter Drucker

Surrounded by People and Esquire magazines, slouching teenagers, and businessmen who look busy but are secretly playing video games on their iphones and ipads, I indifferently walked down the aisle of the plane with starbucks in one hand and a David Baldacci novel in the other, looking for which two people I was going to intrude on because they insist on setting by the window and the aisle (thank you Southwest for not assigning seats). A woman generously offered to move over so I could set on the aisle, since the man by the window was her hubby. I smiled and nodded and positioned myself leisurely in my seat. The cabin smelled of Chili’s seasoning due to it being strategically placed next to our gate for impulsive buyers. There was a tad bit of apprehension, as everyone glanced out the windows at the dark sky and the storm looming in the distance. That apprehension only grew when the captain announced overhead that everyone needed to find a seat quickly or he couldn’t guarantee a take off.

But my apprehension wasn’t coming from the flight or the possibility of storms, at least not the literal storms. The apprehension was coming from realizing indifference was settling in my attitude.

Indifference! It’s my weakness, my coping skill, my defense. It’s easy to go to it when I’m too stressed. It’s easy to go to when my mind and my heart can’t seem to match up. It’s easy to go to when I can’t find the balance.

Unfortunately, once I let it into my life in one area, it’s easy to let it seep into other areas. I found myself battling when is the right time to speak up and when is the right time to be still. And, with the chaos of the thoughts it was just easier to let it move into an “I can’t care” mode.

I can’t care then started becoming the norm the past few weeks. Slower to hang out with people. Slower to be motivated. Slower to let myself be excited. I sat in my seat realizing that I should be more excited about the fact that I’m going to a new place. I should be honored to be speaking at a conference on behalf of TCH. I should be curious about the other professionals I will be meeting. I definitely should not be setting completely indifferent.

And almost as quickly as it set in, a switch went off. The plane ride was turbulent and unpredictable and I cared. I sat with what I’m assuming to other people was an awkward smile on my face, because I realized I’d rather experience the turbulence than set safely in the indifference.

**I reserve the right to edit this tomorrow, when I’m not distracted by the view of my hotel room and the enjoyment of my mini vacation