Thursday, August 29, 2013

Holding the Key

There are days that seem to be just days of keys. Keys of all shapes and sizes, some keys you can't find and some that you can. Some that send us into a tailspin and some that bring on a strange emotional cocktail of excitement and anxiety. Some that we have been desperate to locate and some that we've patiently waited on for a long time. All this talk to keys makes me think about the dramatic difference that a locked or unlocked door can make in our lives.

Flashback with me to 2007, if you will. I was teaching a fresh crop of sixth graders. Everything about these guys was new - they had a new teacher, new classroom, new school - you name it, new. new. new. In the pile of newness were these very cool, but rather bothersome grown up cubbies - lockers. And those lockers had to have locks. And those kids, who have never been able to remember their phone number, let alone a random combination, are now told they get to learn how to use their first combination lock. Oh what fun for sixth grade teachers and friendly custodians. Not-so-Precious memories, how they linger.

Fast forward a bit to a couple weeks down the road. Most everybody in this sixth grade class has managed to learn the ins and outs of combination locks. If nothing else, they can get into their locker. At this point, truthfully, this is sometimes the only thing they have mastered at this point in their middle school careers. But there is always one. Sometimes more, but always one. You know him. He's that kid reduced to some place between tears and pounding fists - and his locker will not open. He thinks he know the combination. He thought he had it figured out. His mom wrote down the combination for him and he had it... until he lost it yesterday. Can his teacher help? The person who is supposed to know how to fix things at school? Nope. She somehow didn't memorize his combination either. And then a hero comes along.

The hero of our story has a lot of keys. They jingle, jangle, jingle, much like Glen Campbell's lyrical spurs. But his keys aren't what we need this time around. No, we're going for something with much more torque. Bolt cutters. When all else fails and you can't get in, these things and this hero are a sixth grader's best friends. At this point in our story, the hero (a school custodial worker) comes to the rescue, saves the day, and cuts the lock off of the locker. It's a beautiful thing and now life can resume.

Sometimes we need someone with the key. Other times, we just need a bolt cutter. Either way, we need to be able to let others come alongside us and help us to open up the things that we've locked away.

I said all of that to say this - we need each other. We need each other to figure out our combinations, to pick our locks, to hold the key (even if it is a bolt cutter) for each other. Me personally, I've had some great key holders along the way and I'm so very thankful for them. Jason Grey has a song out on his "Everything Sad is Coming Untrue" album that says it so much better than I can. Have a listen:

"The key to the truth
Of what's really going on
Your listening ear
Is the grace of God
Love will take the shackles off
But you're the one holding the key..."

"We all need it sooner or later
A safe place for telling the truth
I'm happy returning the favor
'Cause I'm holding the key for you"

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Maggie Assessment

It's always amazing to me how seemingly insignificant movie quotes float back into my head at random times. Tonight on my drive I was reminded of a line from the movie Hook, which, being a child of the 80s and 90s means that I've seen it roughly 2,000 times. The line is uttered by Maggie, an adult Peter Pan's young daughter who has just been rescued by her father from Captain James S Hook - the villain of legend that had kidnapped her and held her captive. I love her assessment of this man. While most would think the reaction would be for her to want her father to kill Captain Hook, she clearly has different ideas.

Right after Peter rescues his children she says, "Daddy, let's go home please. He's just a mean old man without a mommy." Seems like she has sized up Hook's condition quite well. She goes on to say a few frames later with much passion to her would be captor, "You need a mother very, very badly." To which her brother adds, "Yeah, let's go. He can't hurt us anymore." Now, if you've seen the movie you know that (spoiler alert!) Pan goes on to fight Hook which leads to his (Hook's) eventual presumed death. The children fly home with their father and all is put back right with the world.

It's the ending we hoped for. The ending we expected.

My focus tonight, however, is one you might not expect. I've always loved the heart of Maggie's character that shines through in her brief lines throughout the film. She clearly has Hook figured out. She doesn't need revenge, she doesn't seem overly afraid. She just wants to go home and she knows that this man is missing something desperately in his life to make him behave the way that he does.

Today I'm wondering how I can have a little bit more of the heart that Maggie seems to have here when it comes to the way I see people everyday. Although, instead of thinking about just whether or not he/she has a mommy, I need to be asking if the people I come in contact with know Jesus. Reading the comments on East Texas news feeds over the last few months have made me aware of two things 1) If you read these comments you will find yourself wanting to move and 2) for a place that's known as the "Bible Belt" the speed at which we are ready to condemn each other on a moment's notice is astounding. How would that change, I wonder, if we sat down and put our "love" goggles on so to speak, and said, "who is missing in this person's life?" Can we look at people and say, "You (just like me) need a savior very, very badly."

I'm not making much of a statement here tonight. I'm certainly not trying to say that I don't believe in justice. The word of God tells us that this is what the Lord requires of us - that we would act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8). It just seems like some of us have only gotten to the first part. I don't know about you, but I'm going to keep on reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review: Townsend's "Beyond Boundaries"

Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships by John Townsend

In his latest work, Beyond Boundaries, well known psychologist Townsend meets those of us who were left on the edge of wondering after reading the Boundaries book, "getting it," and then waking up to find that we still had these people in our lives or wanted to know how to make sure we don't just get different versions of the original boundlessness relationships we had in the first place. I should pause here and tell you that I was given a copy of this book via Net Galley (a fabulous way to read the latest and greatest on your e-reader) and that Zondervan has not paid me for my comments, nor have they required that I leave a positive review. This is all me.

As you might have guessed, I was one of the people who got to the last page of Boundaries and thought, "well, that's great but now what?" When I saw this followup was due out, I was excited to move a little further. And, in some ways, I think I did. What left me sort of hanging about this is that Townsend focuses more on how to form NEW relationships with totally NEW people. For those of us who are hoping to form boundaries with the people we had issues with before and learn to trust them again, this might help but it's not the ace in the hole I think all of us look for when we turn to so called "self-help." All in all, it is a nice followup, though, just not in the direction I wanted it to go in. Townsend does mention re-trusting those who have broken trust in the past but not at the level that I think people who are staring down that barrel need to find. That being said, I respect Dr. Townsend and will always be interested to see what he has to share next. For those starting new relationships, read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend first, then, when you realize you are doing some things kind of wacky in your relationships (as I believe we all do from time to time), go with Beyond Boundaries.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Narrow Gate & Some Big Buts

Well, if the title didn't get you here, thanks for coming by anyhow. The little bloggie has a bit of a face lift since I've been on blogging hiatus for several months now. Here is one of my latest musings:

I have conversations that go on just between the Lord and I. Granted, since a lot of them seem to happen while I'm driving, people who see me talking to myself probably think I've got some kind of exhaust fume problem happening. A few weeks ago I was having a bit of a debate about some decisions that I've been facing that all of us deal with at some point or another and I was replaying my ramblings to myself when I realized something: every statement I contributed to the conversation started with, "Well, yes, BUT..." and then I would fill in the blank with why the truth that I knew from God's word just might need an exception - you know, just this one time.

We all have big "buts" in our lives that we have to deal with... some of us, more than others. If you think about it, you know how they start out: "I should tell that person about Jesus, BUT they might think I'm weird." / "That's probably not what I should be doing, BUT its what is accepted by the majority right now." / "I know what God's word says about this, BUT I don't like that right now." and on, and on. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't want to be guilty of making a decision when I know that I'll have to ask for forgiveness for it later. When we get right down to it, there is no excuse we could come up with that would trump the word of God. Period.

Back to my title for the evening. You see, there's this narrow gate Jesus told us about. He said that there is a narrow gate that leads to life and only a few find it. There's also a wide gate and it leads to destruction. That reminds me of a car company's commercial a few years ago that said that wider is better. I beg to differ. Wider might seem more comfortable and many choose a wider road because it's more accommodating for those of us bringing our big buts on board. The only problem with that is that road leads to death and last I checked, that was the opposite direction we wanted to go.

So, I don't know about you but I'm thinking I need to get on the narrow road and leave my big buts behind (pun intended). It's not nearly as spacious and might require me to leave some things behind but really, if it's not getting me to the feet of Jesus, it's just extra baggage that I don't need anyhow.


Friday, February 4, 2011

A dog in snow... with boots!

Ok, so I haven't blogged since September. I was finishing a Master's degree and preparing to reopen a public library. Today is a snow day so I might have more to say later on.

In the meantime, please enjoy my too cute dog, Lucy, as she plods through the snow in her snow boots.

"He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.'" - Job 37:5-7


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fat Birds

Admittedly, it has been far too long since I had a thought to "ponder." Truth be told, I have several thoughts but I rarely get them to the screen. Today's ramblings are centered on the lack of skinny or starving birds in the world. Join me on this train of thought.

A few weeks ago I was driving in to work (slightly behind schedule) and having a day where I was feeling sorry for myself. Now that I think about it, I can't even really think what I as whining to God about, but at this point it should have the auditory equivalent to a broken record. I was just leaning in to a nice pout when out of no where a bird that I can only assume was on some sort of kamikaze mission swooped in front of my car. Now there is always a chance that given the egg-like shape and color of my car, that this little birdie thought that he had found his nest. The real situation was that he spotted some morsel of food in the direct line of my vehicle. At this point I realize some of you might be squirming at the fate of tweeter. I'm happy to report that it narrowly missed and returned to his perch on a road sign.

Its always amazing to me how something as insignificant as bird breakfast can change your line of thought. That bird surprised me out of my midmorning mope and something brand new hit me between the eyes. I have never seen a skinny bird. I'm sure they exist somewhere, but they aren't migrating my direction. I've never seen a starving bird on one of those tear jerker ASPCA commercials. The closest outcry I can think of for hungry birds is "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins. Here's why it matters...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

That's from Matthew 6. This is why the health of the bird matters to me - their Heavenly Father feeds them and I'm worth even more than a bird to Him. So while I tend to want to lose myself in worries that can't possibly all come to fruition, I should be basking in the thought that My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.

Just food for thought today... heaven knows the birds have plenty!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flip the Switch

As I was listening to my favorite radio station a few days ago (KVNE out of Tyler), I heard a sort of Christian public service announcement talking about being the light of the world… and it got me to thinking as most things do.

We are probably all familiar with most of the passages en la biblia telling us that Jesus is the light of the world and that we also are to be the light of the world because we belong to him. I think I have a t-shirt somewhere that says something to the effect. And you know, if they put it on a t-shirt, it must be true.

While soaking in these verses I had a thought that I don’t know if I’ve ever had. You probably have had it, so this might be old news. I’ve searched the Word this morning and can’t find any place we are told to go into the darkness and yell at it for being dark. Do you know where that scripture is?

Conversely, the one that I find in Matthew says that we are to let our light shine before men. The image I get here is walking into my darkened bedroom and yelling that it sure is dark in here. What is accomplished by my telling the darkness that it is, in fact, dark? No kidding, there is no light which by default means that it will be dark. God worked that whole thing out in Genesis. What's more, we are told that the those in the dark are so used to it and hate the light that they don't even comprehend it. And, dear friends, how will they unless we show them what the light looks like? Go ahead and try explaining what darkness is without including light in the definition somewhere. I can just imagine what you would think to find me standing in the dark, screaming about how dark it is, and holding a fully charged flashlight in my hand. Looney. This concept of turning on the light should not be all that shocking to me. So why then does it shock us when we go into the world which we are told is in blackout mode and instead of turning on our light for others to see it is easier for us to hate the darkness than flip the switch in our own lives?

Instead of accusing the darkness of being dark and continuing to stay in the dark room, what must happen is that I must have some action on my part. I must choose to love the light more than the dark and because of this I will let the light shine. 1 John 2 says that if we say we are in the light but we hate our brother – get this – we aren’t in the light at all. Basically, we are screaming in the dark.

Time to flip the switch.