Musical Monday: My Immortal – Evanescence

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, in his poem “In Memoriam”:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

I sometimes wonder what Tennyson was smoking when he wrote that. I guess I’ve never known what it felt like to have never loved at all, so I’ll never know if it’s true. I have, however, loved and lost. So maybe anything is better than that, including never having loved at all.

I’ve gone through phases during the past six and a half years of my life. The phases have grown fewer and last a shorter amount of time than they did long ago, but they’re still there. Maybe because not many people see this blog, I feel ok writing about it. And I know I’m not the only one who’s been dealt this blow, so that helps, too.

I don’t believe in the concept of “The One” in regards to finding a spouse. I believe there are different people one is compatible with during certain phases of their life, and when you’re both in the right phase at the right time, then Yay! But if not, all is not lost. Like the summer rain in Florida, just wait a few minutes. The sun will be out again. But if there really is only “the one”, then I’ve already found and lost him. That’s why I’m hoping it’s just a silly concept.

I’ve been what I thought was “in love” several times in my life. Who hasn’t, right? But true love…real love…the kind that seems to define your very existence. The love that makes you physically sick when you’re apart. The love that makes you wonder if you could survive without them in your life. The love real love songs about swimming oceans and climbing mountains and walking thousands of miles are written for. That love I’ve only found once. And I sometimes wonder if I ever will again.

It’s not a pretty tale. It’s actually a fairly devestating one, full of sadness and wrong choices and betrayal and rejection (from both sides) that I will not delve into. It has marked my life in many ways during the past twelve (yes, I said twelve) years. And even though he’s halfway across the world now, and I haven’t seen him in six years, I still don’t think I’m completely over it. He was selfish and I was stupid. He was (and crazily enough, still is) my closest friend in this world. But I am forever changed.

I still mourn what could have been. I’ve moved on, but never really all the way through. Sometimes I think I am permenantly damaged. I guess there’s no way to go through what we did and not be. And I still go through times when the sorrow is overwhelming and the pain is deep and the loss feels so fresh. Silly, I know, given the years and miles that have separated us. But the periods of sorrow, like I said, are getting fewer. Maybe one day I’ll be over it completely. But I’m just in one of those periods now.

I miss my best friend. I miss my soulmate. For that’s what we are. We have both acknowledged it. And when you are separated from your soulmate, it makes a profound impact on you. I am forever scarred. Most days the scar is pale and shallow. But there are a few days, a few times, like now, were the scar is deep and painful with no cause for reinjury. Just part of the damage I bear, I guess.

I will love again, I am sure. But for now,

These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears
When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me

Faith Friday: Me, Moses? I’m not…oh. I see what you did there…

**This is a repost of an earlier blog. I’m not in a place to write a new post right now, and this one has a lot of good to say, especially in light of our nation today. Please read and share, if you would like.**

Moses.

Poor Moses.

You really have to feel for the guy. The only known survivor of Pharaoh’s murderous tirade against the Hebrew children. Enduring the identity crisis of being raised a prince of Egypt while knowing his true heritage was out in the plains of slavery. Watching his people being battered and abused. Secretly killing on of the abusers, only to find out that EVERYONE knew about it, and that a death sentence was on his head. Fleeing the only home he’s ever known into a desert world. Stumbling to a well only to have to be the hero in the epic battle of the Midianite girls versus the ruffian shepherds. Doesn’t he deserve a break?

Finally, he gets one. He’s taken into the home of the priest of Midian. He settles down. He gets married. Has children. Becomes a shepherd. Yeah, his life was pretty good.

Then he just HAD to see it.

The bush was on fire, yet not burning. Curiosity being a human curse, he couldn’t just ignore it. I mean, how often do you see a bush on fire but NOT being consumed? He went to check it out. And we all know what happened from there. God spoke to Moses. Told Moses it was time to leave the comfortable life he had and to do the work of the Lord. It meant going back to the one place Moses never wanted to see again.

Can we really blame Moses for making excuses? Moses gave every excuse he could think of, from his social position (or lack thereof) to his previous reputation to even his stutter! And each time, God had an answer ready. Like Moses could sway God’s decision in this – A God who knew Moses’ excuses before Moses even did, yet still was calling him.

Hindsight being what it is, we can sit here and chide Moses for his actions. We think, “Now, really, Moses. God has an awesome plan for you! You’re going to save lives! He’s got this awesome opportunity for you to minister to those in need. Don’t be silly and complacent. Go!”

Oh, the hypocrisy!

Have you spotted it yet? Here we sit and criticize Moses for making excuses, but think about it; are we really any better? Daily we are surrounded – inundated, really – with countless crises for help, and yet we make excuses for why we can’t help. “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have the money.” “My family has too much going on right now.” “I’ve never had that experience; how can I possibly help?” Do any of those sound familiar? I know they do to me, because I’ve heard myself say them. Just like Moses, we fear leaving the comfortable complacency of our lives and diving right in.

One of the biggest underlying factors of our hesitancy, and the root cause for most of the excuses we give, is the fear of being uncomfortable. We do not handle awkwardness well. We think if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, that we will be invaluable to the situation. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most people who need help are not looking for someone to have had a shared experience. They’re just desperate to know someone – anyone – cares. You don’t have to have been homeless to minister to the homeless. You don’t need to have had a crisis pregnancy to help a woman who does. You don’t have to have an addiction to help someone in the grips of one. You just need to care. It’s that simple.

We sometimes think we have to be at a perfect place in our lives before we can help others. If that’s what you’re waiting for, I have bad news for you: by the time that happens, you’re going to be in a place where no longer do people need help. Don’t let opportunities to minister go by while you’re waiting for the perfect time. In his book Primal Christianity, Mark Batterson states, “You’ll never have enough. You’ll never be enough. You’ll never do enough. But don’t let that keep you from giving what you have, being who you are, and doing what you can.”

We live in a world ripe with need. So many helpless, and all they’re asking is for us to just be us; just as we are, ready to love. If you feel God tugging your heart towards a ministry, fight the urge to make excuses. Know that God wouldn’t be leading you there just to watch you make a fantastic flop of yourself. He’s going to give you the heart to love, grace to cope, and words to say. You just have to be willing and ready. He has hurting children, and it’s up to us to be willing to make ourselves uncomfortable for their sake. Leadership mentor John Maxwell said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” My challenge to you is this: Are you ready for your life to begin?

Tuesday Tickles: Because we’re all going to need a laugh today.

Today is a pretty heavy day. This election will determine greatly the direction our country is going to take. There is good and bad on both sides. And there’s no formula to figure out who’s voting for who. I have wonderful Christian friends who are voting Obama. I have wonderful non-Christian friends who are voting Romney. Religion, race, social status, gender…no stereotypes quite fit for this race. And that is rather a good thing.

No matter what, what’s to be done will be done. No amount of anger, bitterness, or hatefulness is going to change it. So please…don’t risk losing relationships because “your guy” didn’t win. It’s not worth it. The beauty of this country is our freedom to vote our conscious without fear of judgment. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t be the one to ruin that freedom.

Because of the events of today, I felt we were all going to need a good laugh. And that is what I have found for you. When you start to get stressed out, worried, or fearful today, hit play on this video and forget about your woes for at least three minutes.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you…CATS!!

Musical Monday: The One Thing – Paul Colman

This is a huge week for the United States. Quite possibly one of the most significant weeks of modern time. By the end of the day Tuesday, no matter the outcome, things are most likely going into upheaval. And looking at it today (Monday), there is no telling what direction we are going.

There are going to be a lot of questions, a lot of fears, and, unfortunately, a lot of anger towards the eventual outcome. I confess I myself am a little unnerved.

Times like this can cause us to question many things. We question the integrity of our leaders. Are they making the right choices? We question ourselves. Are WE making the right choices in who we vote for? What are the important issues? How do we truly feel about this issue or that issue? If so-and-so wins, what does that mean for me? For my family? My job? My country? All these questions are being asked by a nation weary of questioning.

There’s a lot I don’t know. There’s a lot, come Tuesday, that I am fearful for. I’ve questioned so much recently. So much, save one thing.

“The one thing I don’t question is You
You really love me like You say You do
So hold me”

Oh, Lord, there are so many things I am tempted to question. So many things uncertain towards the future. I fear for my country and the road we are heading down, no matter the outcome of this vote. But I circle this promise, Lord, that is given in Your word:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

That’s not a campaign promise that vanishes as soon as victory is won. It’s not a guarantee until circumstances change. It doesn’t cease to be true whether I voted wrong or right. Of all the things I have to question right now, You, God, are not one of them. And I praise You for that. Thank You, Lord, for being our Rock, no matter Tuesday’s outcome. Thank You for being the one thing.

Faith Friday: Do You Know What a Hug Is?

Dan Jackson – “This is an entry from my blog earlier in the year. With my schooling coming ever closer (January!) reflecting on my last mission trip to the Dominican Republic reminds me time and time again how faithful God really is, and how faithful He always will be.”

A wonderful woman of God once asked me after church “do you know what a hug is?” Thinking “of course I know,” I smiled and said “Yes…?” And she laughed, and the conversation went as follows:

“No you don’t! You’re supposed to say no!”
“Oh, okay.”
“Go on!”
“No, I don’t know!”

After I said no, she gave me the best, and I mean the BEST, huge I have ever received. Now, I’m not the kind of person who usually says whether a hug is good or bad. One of my love languages is physical touch (The Five Love Languages), so I’m typically not picky when somebody shows me love with a hug. This hug, however…wow. It wasn’t just Esther, a sister in Christ, showing her love for a brother. 1 John 4:19 comes to mind. “We love because He first loved us.” Today, I have been pondering who God is according to what He has revealed to us through Scripture and how awesome He is. Obviously, the first thing that comes to my mind is love. I’ve written about God’s love and how He IS love a few times before. This wasn’t just a “so glad to have you missionaries here” kind of hug. This was a hug that clearly said to me and everybody else who received it “I love you.” How incredible is that? After the first hug, we (the team) kept getting hugs from people in the church. People showing love who actually meant it. It’s such a blessing to be reminded that love is real, and love is there for anybody who seeks it.

This world is so superficial and full of things that make us think that we’re receiving love or fulfillment, but this tangible, genuine display of true love was mind-blowing. The Bible tells us that when two are three are gathered in His name, He is there. That Sunday in Iglesia Bautista Cristo Para las Naciones–He was there. Fellowship together wasn’t just a compulsory Sunday morning thing. It was a gathering of God’s children to worship the one who has given them life. 1 John 3:16 says “This is how we know what love is: Christ laid down his life for us, and we should do the same for our brother.” Wow. We should love others so much that we are willing to lay down our lives for them! Honestly, I can admit that there are times when I don’t feel that love. But we’re commanded to. And it’s not “I love you because I have to” kind of love–it’s the real love that we give to others because of the love that Jesus has for us. My prayer is that He would teach me how to love like that; that He would teach me how to love like Him.

What I have just come to call “The HUG” kept coming to my mind today. It also reminds me of God’s faithfulness. Today I woke up feeling lonely, and I was struggling with a lot of things from the past. God used this experience to remind me of not only the love we are to have for each other, but also to remind me of the love He has for us. If that huge demonstration of love was just a glimmer of how great He really is, I can’t wait to be before His throne to experience Him in all his awesomeness. He is faithful in His promises, and for that I praise Him. Sometimes all we need is someone to just tell us that they love us. God tells us that all the time. What started as a hug was a vehicle for God to show me a glimmer of the love He has for me. Bondieu li Bon, tout nan. I can’t stop saying this truth.

Musical Monday: Broken – Lifehouse

Can You see me?

I know I’m small.

A speck, really.

Just one of three billion other people on this planet, all demanding Your attention in one way or another.

I hope You can see me, though, cause I need You right now.

I know it may not look like it.

I’m not homeless; I have a wonderful house to live in.

I’m not starving; I have food in my cupboards and the ability to get more.

I’m not unemployed; I have a wonderful job that I enjoy.

I have a good car. Amazing friends. Incredible support. Money in the bank. A college education. More love than I think I deserve. Wonderful opportunities to serve You.

Yes. It may look like I don’t need You. But looks can be deceiving.

I wear a smile on my face. It’s because I really am happy. But I think there’s something wrong with my heart. It feels…broken.

Some people may think that means I love You less, or not as much as I should. That’s not true. I love You more than my very life. I’m not in danger of “losing my religion” or anything. No, that part’s ok.

The broken pieces of my heart feel…lonely. I know that sounds crazy, especially since I’m surrounded by such incredible people whom I love and who love me in return. But that’s the only way to describe the way I feel.

I’m surrounded by people, but still feel alone.

Is there a cure? I don’t know.

Why did it start? I don’t know.

How long will it last?

I don’t know.

There’s a lot I don’t know. But there is one thing. One thing I know for certain with all the broken pieces of my heart.

I’m hanging on to You.

So, God…can You see me?

Soapbox Saturday: TURN THAT RACKET DOWN!!

I’m driving down the road. It’s a nice, breezy day. I’ve got my window down, music nicely coming through the speakers, everything’s very casual. I stop at a stoplight. Then…I hear it before I see it.

BOOM BOOM BOOM

That loud metallic rattling like something is trapped and trying to get out of a car’s trunk. Then this car with kids hanging out of it pulls up with music you can hear (and feel!) within a one-tenth mile radius! I roll my eyes, clench my teeth, and mutter how annoying it is that their NOISE is ruining MY calm afternoon.

I turn to glare at the kid driving, thinking that maybe my disapproving look will make them want to turn off their pollution and turn on my calming music. The kid driving turns to look at me. Our eyes meet.

The kid is me, fifteen years ago.

CRAP!!!