The Icing on the Cake

Special Note: Much as I dislike Christian-ese, I’m going to use a word straight out of the Church and Religious People’s Vocabulary Handbook: “Anointing.” Just so no one gets lost, I’ll define it: To be anointed means to have been chosen by God to do a specific thing especially for him.

I was thinking today about the difference between talent and anointing. I was thinking about this because I would consider myself a talented singer. But I have this wonderful, beautiful, amazingly talented friend who is very obviously anointed to lead worship through music. So I wondered today (and not for the first time) if I’m an anointed singer. After I mentally compared myself to my friend, I decided that I’m not.

But today for some reason, it didn’t end there. I felt like God stopped me and asked, “Who said you can’t be anointed?” He impressed on me that he wouldn’t give someone talent in an area if he wasn’t also prepared to anoint in that area. It was simply a matter of wanting it, and that would come by wanting him.

So, what kind of music do I listen to? What are my thoughts toward God? What am I doing to demonstrate to him that I want the honor and responsibility of being anointed? I felt like God said to me, “If you want it, come get it.” And then he reminded me that he’d said the same thing to me years ago. Instead of working toward it then, I spent years gradually letting fear lead to apathy. “I’m not confident enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not compentent enough. God doesn’t even like me. Who wants it anyway? Who cares.” I eventually buried what he said beneath fear and presumed rejection.

Over the years I’ve often compared myself to my friend, and I always fell quite short. That’s stupid of me, of course. I’m not her. Despite my worst thoughts of myself, me being me doesn’t equal automatic disqualification. I think probably the number one requirement of anointing is that you’re you, not wishing you were someone else…

What is the difference between talent and anointing? That’s like asking what’s the difference between cake and icing: They’re not meant to be the same, they’re meant to go together (and quite deliciously). If God baked it, and you offer it back to him, he’ll totally frost it. And then it will be delicious for everyone, and God will get all the glory for making such an awesome cake.

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No Pretty Bows

*Dusts off blog. Clears throat.*

This year has been a trip. I can’t begin to address all that has happened in one post, so I won’t try. But I’ve been seeing many things so much more clearly lately, and I wanted to share something I saw today.

I have this group of friends I meet with. They’re like my lifeline. (I never realized how much I needed safe people until I had them. Get yourself some. ) In candid conversations with them I realized that for years I’ve avoided facing my feelings. When it became clear I’d need to cut that out, I was afraid. I likened facing my feelings to voluntarily falling into a deep pit. I avoided the pit with vigor. I saw myself in the mouth of the pit, arms and legs stretched out, fingers and toes clenching dirt and roots to avoid the dark bottom. Pitfall prevention.

Eventually I chose to willingly go in. It was sort of like the dark tunnel. Scared as I was, I knew somehow God would be waiting for me there.

It’s been about a month since I made that decision, and I find I’m in a better place than I’ve been in years. Oddly, falling in wasn’t as grueling or horrible or dark as I thought it would be, and today I wondered why. The answer floated to the surface like one of those magic eight ball thingies.

I’d already fallen in a long time ago. I’d been at the bottom of the pit all this time.

And realizing I was in a pit gave me the resources to get out. So … lately I’ve been climbing out of the pit, not falling into it. The more I climb, the more light there is. The easier it is to breathe.

I could summarize with some super spiritual, super deep conclusion for you here, but I feel that tying a pretty bow on this would diminish it. So [draw your conclusions and insert them here].

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Loneliness Defined

I have only just now realized what is at the heart of loneliness. At least, it’s at the heart of my own loneliness.

When life sucks, sometimes you need someone to talk to. But sometimes you need someone to hold you–really hold you–while you sob and snot everywhere. Right now, I don’t want to talk. I am particularly missing a chest to sink into, and arms to cradle me.

Friends, good friends, are wonderful things. I have good friends. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend with whom I could cry and just be held. I’ve never had a girlfriend hold me. (I don’t mean hold my hand or encircle my shoulder, but hold me. Say nothing, do nothing, just hold me until I’m all cried out.)

Right now, a good holding would be all the comfort in the world.

I never knew I would miss this until just now, when I need it and realize I no longer have it. And today, for the first time since the drama began, I feel lonely.

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God In Time

We pray about what will happen. But we don’t typically pray about what already happened. Why?

***

I got to be part of an amazing conversation with some friends recently. It was one of those conversations that shifts paradigms.

Who’s seen the movie “The Kid” starring Bruce Willis? It’s the story of a 40-ish man who meets and gets to hang out with his 8-year-old self. Somehow we began chatting about this movie, and then we began to wonder what we’d say if we could talk to a former version of ourselves. We all shared about the things some former version of ourselves needed to hear. For example, I would tell my 14-year old self things like: you are valuable; though you’re the only stepchild of three children, you are just as important as your siblings; you belong; you’re not invisible; you’re accepted.

It was an emotional conversation. We wished and hoped that we could have somehow helped our former selves and unravel knots that still affect us today. We wished and hoped that God could somehow have healed us from the pain we endured then, thereby helping our present selves.

We dug deeper into thoughts about time and God. We shared snippets of things we’d heard or thought or felt.

  • One of us shared a story she’d heard: God showed a man a vision of a moment in his childhood when he was wounded by someone he loved. The person had since died–but in this vision, the person apologized for wounding him as a child.
  • Another of us shared about a story in the book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. In it, Donald was trying to comfort a family member who had lost her father. He told her that they were all together in heaven already with her father, because heaven is outside of time.
  • Another shared a vivid childhood memory of being at church with her mother. A few years ago, God reminded her of that day. He shared that He had been there in that moment, looking down on her and thinking joyfully about the day of her salvation more than 20 years later.

After these stories, we began to wonder:

God exists outside of time; we know this from the teachings in the Bible. So … if God can see/use time as the thing it truly is (not linear, but something else), if He can place Himself in or out of it, or use it as a tool to accomplish His will and serve His purposes … then why do we restrict our prayers to the future? Why shouldn’t we pray, today, for the hurting and struggling versions of ourselves that only God–unbound by these earthly restrictions–can reach?

If we could do this … what results would we see today? Imagine! Go ahead!

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Sometimes

Sometimes the world closes in
And it’s dark and scary.

The shadows stretch out and distort
the things that once looked “right” and made sense.

Sometimes it feels like you’ve been
wandering in the dark for ages and ages.
You’ve been gone forever,
and people are just, just now noticing.

You thought God didn’t notice either.
He doesn’t seem to have much to say nowadays.
He doesn’t seem to be in arms’ reach lately.

Then sometimes He says something,
and you hear the whisper of His voice
and it feels like the warm breath of your mother
against your ear when she tells you it’s gon’ be alright.

It’s almost too beautiful to believe,
too wonderful to accept,
too sweet to swallow.

If you could hold a moment in your hands forever,
this would be it.

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Joyful Moments

Have you ever done a vision board? It’s a tool to help map out dreams and/or goals. My friend first introduced the idea to me and another friend last January. We wanted to visualize our dreams and goals for 2010, and for us the endeavor involved prayer and the expected guidance of the Holy Spirit.

According to my 2010 vision board, I wanted to be creative and stylish, look good, be a great mom, get together with friends, write, be crafty, grow, spice things up in the bedroom, enjoy unguilty pleasures, get organized, travel, and more.

Looking at that board today, it’s so cluttered that very little stands out. It can barely contain everything I tried to cram on it. Of all I hoped the board would reflect about 2010, the thing it says most clearly is: There was entirely too much crap going on. (How apropos, although I didn’t notice it until after I did this year’s board.) 

I also realized that the old board held labels of what I thought I should be, or what I thought others expected of me, instead of what I hoped and dreamed for myself. This year I was determined that would not be the case. 

My theme for 2011 is “joyful moments.” Here’s the quote by Brene’ Brown that inspired it:

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy.

Joy is not a constant.  It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.  Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments.  Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy.  That would eventually become unbearable.

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration.

In that regard, I chose a black canvas to better display the bright words and colors I cut from the magazines. Each piece draws the eye away from the black. Frankly, the bright colors look better because of the black. That’s what I hope the joyful moments of 2011 will be like too. I also rejected words and images that caught my eye, and instead gravitated to the ones that caught my heart. The result:

  • I want to see my children and my family blossom.
  • I want to rebuild my ability to hope and expect good things of myself and in my life.
  • I want to walk with bravery and be wise and open.
  • I want to strive for strength in balance in what’s important.
  • I want to appreciate all of who I am. 
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Remix: Out of Control

This is a remix of “Laundry Ruminations: Control or Out of Control?” (Summer 2008).

***

One day as I was doing laundry, I started thinking about cake, frosting, cookies, chocolate and other delicious gooey things.

Then I thought about the passage I’d read in the book of Romans about a month before. In it, Paul said we should give our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. To me this meant (among other things) I should let God control what I eat. This lined up with what I’d felt God saying to me for awhile. Thing is, I hadn’t been sure I wanted to give Him control, because He wouldn’t want me to eat cake with two inches of frosting. (Maybe occasionally, but not 2-3 times a day as I’d prefer.) This irritated me. Why shouldn’t I dang well eat whatever I want? Why doesn’t God want me to have any fun?!

So I’d rebelled. I didn’t quit going to church or anything; I just started eating like a pig. I couldn’t bear the thought of God saying I couldn’t have a Sonic Fried Ice Cream shake, so I shut off my filter and ate as I pleased. I wanted control of what I put in my mouth.

One day someone brought brownie bites to class. When I saw them I said, “Aw, who did that? Oh well, I have no choice …” A classmate said, “Yes you do have a choice!” I quickly popped one into the mouth. “Oops, too late!” I joked. But it was true: in the face of brownies, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. After class I took two more on the way out.

So that day as I did laundry, indignant with my Father over cake, I had a ridiculously obvious revelation: I didn’t have control. I’d been so determined to have it, but I’d given it up to brownie bites and things of that ilk. BROWNIE BITES. How was I in control if, whenever I saw cake, I had to eat it? If I was so much in control, then what happened to my ability to choose, to say no?

Then God asked me why I was I fighting Him so hard over garbage? It looks and even tastes good, but it’s not good. Seriously, whose health has ever been vastly improved by cake? Has anyone lost weight on the Cake and Frosting Diet? Whose cholesterol level has dropped thanks to sugar? I’d fallen for old lies: my way was better than His, and He wanted to ruin my fun. The result was an old deception: I was out of control because I’d willingly given it away.

FRICK’N DEVIL!

Junk food is a huge temptation, putting a wall between me and God. So I can tell myself I’m in control when I’m not, or I can let God handle it. When I crave junk, it helps to remember that it’s garbage. (“Filth” as Dr. Rubin calls it.) My Father wants what’s best for me. It’s stupid to put garbage ahead of life.

And that lesson applies to much more than junk food.

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Tiny Alien Imposter

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be grown. I had lots of expectations:

  • I’d be a rich and famous singer, actress and dancer.
  • I’d be beautiful. I’d be slender and have big breasts and long hair.
  • I wouldn’t be afraid of the dark anymore. I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.
  • I’d have a handsome and dashing husband, and we’d live happily ever after.
Tiny alien directing an old man's body.

Inside it's a tiny alien.

Last night I had an extremely difficult and painful conversation with my husband. I was surprised at how small I felt inside. Like that tiny alien on Men in Black II. Like a 5-year-old, dressed up in a 38-year-old body. A small imposter, very much afraid of the dark.

Do you remember that paralyzing childhood fear? I remember being terrified that something was under the bed or in the closet. The fear was so intense that I could not move–not even to avoid wetting the bed. It took all my willpower to cry out for my mother.  

I wonder if my maturity will ever match the years on the calendar. I wonder if anyone can see that I’m just a baby. Most days I try to hide it, but sometimes I want to be rightly seen. That way someone can let me be small and scared, and they’ll hold me and tell me it’ll be okay. And because I’m just a little one, I’ll believe it.

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Deciphering Me

 

I never thought of this as a worship song, but it was for me today.

God, speaking to me:
Friend, it’s getting late. We should be going. We’ve been sat here beneath these flickering neons for hours.

Me, distracted by flickering neons:
While I am cracking their code, You are deciphering me. For I am a mystery, I am a locked room in a tall tower.

My spirit to me:
Oh can you feel the gravity falling, calling us home? Oh did you feel the stars colliding? Shining just to show, we belong.

Me, forgetting the stupid neons and looking at God:
Your telescope eyes see everything clearly. My vision is blurred, but I know what I’ve heard echoing all around. While I am tuning You in, You are deciphering me: Not such a mystery, not such a faint and far-away sound.

My spirit to me:
It’s love, it’s love that holds us! We will be alright. It’s truth, it’s truth that shows us, if we’ll walk in its light.

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Spiraling

A few months ago my church welcomed a gentleman named Sy Rogers. I was privileged to take part in a leadership session he taught, and something he shared had “encouragement potential.” I find I keep thinking about it. If I’m not careful, I might let it give me hope …

I’ll try my best to do this idea justice.

We (people in pain) tend to think of life as a straight line from A to B. An event happens on the timeline, we move past it and it’s gone.

But life is more like a spiral. You march along the spiral and an Event happens and it’s horrible. You get past it, and you assume you’re done with it. But lo and behold, ten years later The Event rears its ugly head. Suddenly you’re dealing with the pain of some horrible 10-year-old Event like it happened yesterday. What the heck!

Sy explained it this way: When The Event happened, you weren’t ready to properly deal with it. Your life, your experiences, your understanding, your relationship with God hadn’t yet equipped you to deal with The Event. It had to go away, and it had to come back now–ten years later–because it’s in this stage of your life that you’re equipped to rightly deal with The Event.

Today. With accumulated experience and understanding, and with a time-tested relationship with God that you didn’t have when you were 5, or 15, or 25 or whatever. It has to be now. Because now you’re ready.

So … maybe now, in my late 30s, I’m finally ready. I mean, this sucks. But maybe God saved this for now because, even though it feels like it’s too heavy and it’s too much for me today, I definitely didn’t have the chops for it back whenever. If it’s this hard now … it would’ve crushed me then.

Yes, despite how it feels, I’m thinking maybe now I’m ready.

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