Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Letting Go

I love this song! It's such a good explanation of what it feels like to trust in God, to give up our own ideas for what our life should be like and embrace instead His plan. Because it's true: His ways ARE higher than our ways.

Over the Summer, I went with my family to Pigeon Forge, TN for a much-needed vacation. On our last day there, I did something I'd been wanting to do for a long time: I rode the Superman! That's not what this particular place called it, but still... You strap into the harness so that you're on your belly and they take you up about 80 feet in the air to drop you, then you swing REALLY high for a long time. This is how the conversation with my attendant went, once I was in the harness:

Him: "OK, go ahead and start leaning forward, your feet are going to come out from under you in just a second."

Me: "HUMPH!" (as my feet shot out behind me and I found myself studying the gum-strewn concrete from 3 feet up. It was then that it dawned on me, there's no cushioning should the mechanism fail... *gulp*)

Him: (as I'm eye-level with him and steadily climbing.) "When you get all the way to the top, I'm gonna count you off-- 1-2-3-- Then you're gonna pull that cord on your right hip."

Me: "OK-- WHOA!HANGON! WHO'S gonna pull the cord?!?!?!?!?!"

Him: "You are. Wait til I count. Have a nice flight!"

NO KIDDING, wait til you count!!! I had to be responsible for pulling the cord?!?! For letting go and trusting the rope I was dangling from to do its job? At 30 feet, I seriously began questioning my sanity. At 50, I was gulping down air, telling myself repeatedly how unhappy the onlookers below would be if I didn't hang on to my breakfast. At 80, the machine stopped. And so did my heart.

ONE! (Oh holy Jesus, what am I DOING?!?!?!?!)

TWO! (I can do this! --I can't do this! --I CAN do this!!! --I can't--)

THREE!!! (Ooohhhh Gooooddddd!!!!!)

My hand clumsily found the cord. My eyes rolled around, not actually focusing on anything, just taking in a blurry sea of hard, hard ground. The go kart race below became muffled and distant. I inhaled deeply, held it, and tugged on the cord. For a moment (that felt like eternity) nothing happened. I just hung there. Then I began my rapid descent towards the ground. I didn't breathe again until I felt the cord pull tight and I began the arc upwards (after coming terrifyingly close to the pavement). From there, it was AWESOME!!!

Letting go is both exhilarating and nauseating. You want to shout with joy and expectation while at the same time weep in fear and mourning for what you're letting go. It is terribly wonderful, and wonderfully terrible! It's scary. There's comfort in having something to hold onto: our routines, certain people, different things that have been a part of our lives so long that we don't remember life without them.

We find our security in these things that we cling to. But God's promise is that HE is our security. He will never leave, never forsake; He does not change. There is much more strength in HIS grasp than in our own. And sometimes we need to let go of our "stuff" so that we can cling more tightly to Him. THAT'S where true comfort is.

So what is it that you're hanging on to? Let me encourage you to let go. Pull the cord; feel the wind on your face!

Don't be afraid, for I am with you.
Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Don't just DO something! STAND THERE!!!"

I love these words from White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland! But I never thought they'd be fitting in any situation but sarcasm... Until I just couldn't take it anymore...

I told you in this post all about the Salvation Army bells and how they ALWAYS make me cry. Last week, as I got out of my truck and heard the bells and started crying and wishing there was something I could do, I heard a voice say those words to me: Don't just "do something" (wish that you could, but can't and so nothing gets done at all)! STAND THERE!!

I asked the guy how to get involved, got the number, and rang a bell for the first time last night. Yes, I choked up a couple times. Can it. ;) Well, that's all well and good, I thought, but what if we could make it more interesting? I like to make things interesting...

So I challenged my Millbrook-area friends to come see me and make a donation. In return, I would sing a Christmas song for them. It was a nasty night, so I don't really blame anyone for not turning out (except for the Smiths-- THANK YOU GUYS!!!)!

Well that challenge is still on! I'll be letting you know my bell ringing schedule so you can come donate and have a song sung in your honor... But while I was on the Salvation Army website today I found-- wait for it... an online kettle!!! Oh this is just TOO good to pass up!

That's right! I'm now ringing the bell ONLINE! Check out the widget on the right that keeps up with the progress of online donations!

And furthermore-- I'm extending the challenge to the online kettle! For every online donation, I'll sing while I'm at the real kettle in Millbrook!

So to ALL my friends, local and only close-at-heart, I wanna sing for you! But there's only ONE way to make that happen (well, two, technically)... Please help me make a difference in the lives of so many who just need a little hope this year!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Heaven Is For Real - Todd Burpo (book review)

Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo is the amazing TRUE story of a little boy's journey to Heaven during a life-saving operation. Burpo's son, not quite 4 at the time of the surgery, waited until months went by to reveal the story of angels singing to him in the hospital. Throughout the course of the next few years, in ways that only a child can, he recants stories of his trip to Heaven with his family that include telling his parents what they had been doing while he was under anesthesia, meeting his great-grandfather (that he never knew on earth), and telling them things about Heaven that he would have no reason or means of knowing (save experience).

From the first page of the introduction, this story kept me in tears! The emotional roller coaster this family experienced, the intricate weave of the good with the bad, kept me turning page after page! I had the story read in a matter of hours; I couldn't put it down! Reading Colton's descriptions of what to expect in Heaven makes me that much more excited and expectant to get there one day! I would definitely recommend this book to ANYONE who questions what will happen after we breathe our last here on earth!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Silver Bells and Pavlov's Dogs

You know how the Salvation Army puts out red kettles at the entrances of pretty much every store you visit during the holiday season? And how they have people manning the buckets, ringing little silver bells? A lot of people have different responses to this situation. They roll their eyes and walk an arc around the kettle. They walk by talking loudly about how the Salvation Army doesn't properly handle the money (not that this is my opinion!). They reluctantly pull the change out of their pocket, not bothering to pick the lint out before dropping it in...

Me? I cry. It's a Pavlov's dog sort of response, and rather embarrassing really. And this is every time I hear the bells. EVERY time. If I'm lucky, I'll just get a lump in my throat; more often than not, tears will sting my eyelids. But if I'm not careful, sometimes they'll escape, along with a couple of shaky sobs before I can regain my composure.

Why the dramatics? Am I that in love with the Salvation Army? Or with that tell-tale sign of the holiday season? No... It's because I remember. For the other 10 months of the year, it doesn't phase me quite so much. I get so immersed in my own goings on, so focused on accomplishing the task at hand or keeping straight the To-Do list that I can forget. But in that faint tinkling sound, I hear their cries. The starving child whose mother doesn't know where the next meal is coming from. The young woman on a dingy cot in yet another shelter. The countless souls on the streets with nowhere to live and no means to make a living. The kids in the group home that will get nothing for Christmas if not for the kindness of strangers. For 10 months it's quiet in my world. Sure there are the occasional television commercials or ads in a magazine, but a click of the remote and a flip of the page and there's silence once again. Then November rolls around, and the inescapable bells are back...

And I realize, the needs never left. They're still there, hungry and homeless and broken in spirit, just like they have been January-October... And with barely getting my own ends to see each other (much less meet), I feel so helpless. My heart breaks at the sound of the bells, at the thought of the people those bells represent. Then it breaks even more because I can't make the bells stop. Not out of my pocket. Not all by myself.

But there are so many ways to give. I want to find somewhere to volunteer, even year round. Maybe a local food bank or soup kitchen to help out with on Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll even ring a bell myself by Christmas! Ok, so that link doesn't do any good for my area, but it's neat that such a site even exists! And I really would like to ring a bell... Even though I'd just stand there and cry the whole time.

I know I can't do it all. But I can't let what I can't do keep me from doing what I can.

So if you're in a Tri-County area Walmart through Christmastime and hear someone squalling in the parking lot, chances are it's nothing to worry about... Just me folding up a couple of dollar bills, praying Jesus does His loaves and fishes thing with them. I just want to make the bells stop. Hopefully, you'll join me and figure out in what ways you can make a difference too. Because even when it doesn't feel like it, even when we never see the end result, even when it's only two months out of the year, every little bit does make a difference.

"And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth,
when you did it to one of the least of these...
you were doing it to me!'"
Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It's that glorious time of day! Almostnaptime! After hours of being covered in snot, tears, dirt, food, and Idon'tevenwannaknowwhatthatis, we gear up for a blissful rest! The tables are clean, the lights are off, the kids are on their cots. We inhale for that downshifting sigh... When all of the sudden--

Heads pop up.

Bodies flip.

Legs flail.

And for probably a lot less time than it feels like, we dart around playing the gentlest, quietest game of Whack-A-Mole ever! Lay back down! Roll back over! SSSHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

But, Tica, you don't understand! There are objects in this room I haven't tasted yet! I have imaginary touchdowns to make! Mom's calling me on the Elmophone! I haven't finalized my sonata on the alligator xylophone! I haven't decided yet whether it's an alligator or a crocodile! I HAVEN'T EVEN LEARNED THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO! There's so much I have to DOOOOOO!!!!

Of course, what I DO understand is how much they need this rest in order to enjoy the rest of their day. And even beyond the day, adequate sleep is needed for proper development so that they can grow up to make real touchdowns and write sonatas on Steinways (which look nothing like a reptile. How sad.)! That little break is essential to prepare them for what's to come... If only they could understand how important naptime today is for their futures, they wouldn't fight it so much!!!

(This one's gonna sting a little...)

Marica, it's time to take a break.

It is naptime. Time to put away the doing and rest. To relax and to breathe deeply for a while. To get prepared for what's to come.

But, God, You don't understand! I've got this project over here and those people over there and I've got to finish this project and start on that one and and and-- There's so much I have to DOOOOOO!!!!

I flip and flail and fight. I fidget and twitch restlessly, thinking of all the things that are going undone because I'm just lying here. I try to get back up while He's not looking...

Yeah, that works even less for me with Him than it does for the kids with me.

It's scary and unnerving to not be doing. Especially for a doer. I don't like it. Just like my toddlers, I can't immediately see the point in stopping what I'm doing now. Isn't this thing important? Why would letting it go unfinished be a good thing?

But I must remember that He sees the end from the beginning. He knows there is more ahead. Before long, I'll be exchanging my xylophone for a baby grand (follow the metaphor here; I don't play either) and I'll need my rest for proper development. I may not like it right now, but I know it's for my best down the road. So I do my best to embrace this not doing in the present, trusting that it's all part of His plan for my future.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.
"They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Joyful Noise

My mother gave her life to God last summer. That began her journey into the world of music devoted to the Creator and Redeemer, especially the stuff she heard at church on the weekends. She ransacked my collection of CD's, wearing them out in her portable CD player, lamenting as one song after another became scratched to the point of no return.

So my sister and I got her an mp3 player for Mother's Day, and my dear friend loaded it with some great stuff from her own collection (which is, admittedly, much more extensive than mine). As with the portable CD player, she would don her headphones and be "Jammin' with Jesus" for hours on end.

She loves to sing along, praising the One who makes all things new.

She cannot sing. Even without the headphones on and at full volume. Seriously. It's... It's bad. I'm not gonna lie.

...My niece starts to ask "What's that sou-- Oh," giggles, "Mawmaw's singin again." More giggles.

...I pull in the front yard and panic wondering what is crying out in agony.

...People driving past with their windows down slow down and look around with worried expressions.

...Dogs howl in the distance.

...And I fully believe that God responds, too.

I can hear Him hush all of Heaven, so He can listen. I envision the Holy Spirit stopping what He is doing to hover over her, enrapt by the beautiful sound rising up to Him. I can picture Jesus leaning over, savoring the sweet aroma that is her praise!

She knows Who her audience is. And it's not me, or the neighbors, or the dogs down the street. She could care less what we think. And her Audience doesn't hear the missed notes. He hears a melody, pure and holy; unrivaled by the angels themselves! An offering of adoration poured out from a heart that once was dead and knows it! She's not worried about her singing; she's rejoicing in the new life she's been given! Making a joyful noise!

And I am convinced that Mom's singing is God's favorite.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eventual Left

You know that guy in front of you, with his left turn signal going?

"Wait, he just turned right out of that parking lot. Why is his left signal on?"

*blink, blink, blink*

"Maybe his right one's broken and he was just doing the best he could. It should go off riiigghhttt aboooouuuutttt now."

*blink, blink*

"Hm. Well, he'll hear it clicking in just a second." You tighten your grip on the steering wheel in subconscious agitation. Your palms start sweating and you realize you're gritting your teeth...

*blink, blink, blink*


...OK. So maybe the "eventual left" doesn't bug you as much as it does me. But I got behind that guy on my way home from work tonight and MAN does it bug me!

Of course, that guy doesn't mean to raise my blood pressure. He's not even aware of the fact that he is sending mixed signals (I meant to do that.). Inside the car, he is heading forward, toward his destination. Outside the car, the rest of us are thinking he's gonna turn there. No. Maybe there. No. There. No. He gives the impression that he's turning, when in fact that is (apparently) not his intention at all.

And that got me thinking... How often am I an eventual left?

In my heart, I want to "praise the Lord at all times." In my countenance, the busted radiator hose spewing antifreeze out of my truck irreparably damages my day.

In my heart, I strive to be compassionate. In my communicating, I don't hear what my mother is saying because I'm already whining about my terrible day before she even finishes her thought.

In my heart, I long to be selfless. In my actions, everything I do, say, think, intend, plan, contemplate is centered around how it benefits Numero Uno. Or would it be "Numera Una" in my case? I digress...

My intention is to live as Christlike as possible. To serve others. To help people. To be a willing vessel that He can use in whatever capacity He chooses. And to do it all with a good attitude. But sometimes, maybe even most times, the impression I give is entirely different.

Thank God for that little nudge, that voice that says, "You're blinker's on. You look pretty stupid right now cuz you're saying you're turning, but you're not planning on it. Might wanna turn that off." (Hey, the Holy Spirit communicates in ways I can understand, ok? Hehe.)

What about you? Have you ever found yourself driving with your blinker on?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Boke It, Tica!

I work at a daycare with 12-24 month old toddlers. They call me Tica, which is the name my niece gave me when from "Aunt Marica" she picked out the "T" and "-ica".

There was one little girl. Big green eyes, hair always falling into her cherubic little face no matter how many bows her mother adorned her with... And at 22-months-old she knew everything and could do it all by herself!

"You're going to break it if you don't let me help." I'd warn as she pulled on and struggled with a toy that she knew came apart but didn't quite know how. I'd reach and she'd snatch away. I'd tell her to let me show her and she'd turn her back to me. Utterly irritated, I would finally just give up and turn my attention to someone else.

And inevitably...

"I boke it, Tica." There she would be at my knee, pieces of toy in each hand, looking up at me with those big green eyes. No apologies in those eyes. No "You were rights" or "I was wrongs". No excuses. Just faith. Absolute trust that I could put it back together good as new. I could have left the toy in pieces to prove the point that she should have let me help in the first place, and many times I wanted to. But that complete faith in those innocent eyes and that sweet voice with her missing R's was always too disarming. It never failed that I would pick her up and put her in my lap to let her watch as I popped little plastic parts back in place. She would grin at me in awe as I handed her toy back, good as new, and then she'd be off trying to take it apart again...

"I broke it, God" I say as I display the disassembled fragments of situation that I pushed and pulled and tugged and twisted, being sure that the desired outcome had to be there somehow, until it all just fell apart. How exasperated He must get with me, knowing that He has the answers if I would just listen and let Him. But at 24-years-old I know everything and can do it all by myself. How tempting it must be to just leave my life in the shambles I put it in, in order to teach me the lesson.

And yet how just like Him to smile, pull me into His lap and say "Watch" as He effortlessly repairs the damage I have done. And even to revel in my wonder as I look up at him in amazement when He hands me back something even better than before!

"I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive
the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it."
Jesus as recorded in Mark 10:15

Monday, October 11, 2010


-noun. a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc.; rebirth; revival (

That's what this blog needs: a renewal of life, a renaissance.

Who am I kidding? Renaissance is what this GIRL needs! And I'm getting it, whether I like it or not. I scream I need change, and nothing happens. God says We're redoing things now, and I squeak and panic and start grabbing at things that He's shaking loose as if I can keep it all in place.

I'm a control freak. He's determined to break me of it. And deep down, I want it to happen. I want to let go. To just surrender and enjoy the ride.

Here's to trying!

Here's to Renaissance!