Archive | May 2012

Song Lyrics, Movie Quotes, and Random Facts… Oh My!

On any given afternoon after school, my mom would play old records (yes, I’ve seen a 45) while she was cleaning or balancing her checkbook and just doing the “mom” thing.  The Statler Brothers were played often and I always wanted to hear “Elizabeth”, because that’s also my middle name.  It was a lot harder to just “go back” on a record player, but she would do it for me anyway.  Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” is another one of the songs that plays in the background of some of my earliest memories.  It was also not uncommon for Natalie, Andrew, and I to come in and watch Mary Poppins (or Mary Popkins, if you were still learning to say it).  Duke Basketball is another one of the many “I grew up on that” things. 

I’m amazed at how long I can go without hearing a song and with just the intro being played, I can still sing the whole thing flawlessly.  I don’t know that I’ve heard “Elizabeth” in twenty years, but as I sit here and type—I can still hear the chorus in the back of my mind.  To this day, I can still quote that old Julie Andrews movie in casual conversation.  And I’m pretty sure, if pressed, I can probably still name the starters of the 1991 and 1992 Duke NCAA Championship teams.

It’s not even childhood memories that I seem to have compartmentalized in my mind.  For example, why can I tell you that when you die, your hair still grows for a couple of months?  Did you also know that the reason Sean Connery was casted as James Bond is because he won the Mr. Universe pageant?  If pressed, I can probably name all 11 American Idol winners.  Is there any reason to just remember any of that?  Absolutely not.

I can quote and rattle off all kinds of not-so-important (I can’t quite bring myself to admit that I should say “useless” right now) facts and statistics.  However, I cannot quote many Bible verses verbatim.  I can’t tell you where some of my favorite stories in scripture are actually found without stopping to really think about it.  And, even if pressed, I may not be able to name all 66 Books of the Bible in order from start to finish.  Something’s gravely wrong with this picture. 

I thought about that tonight as the scripture given to me was Psalm 119:11.  It says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”  Some translations use the word hidden.  Either way, the point is that the writer had considered God’s Word to be the most valuable thing.  It’s what his heart and mind would dwell on.  “That I might not sin against You”—that I might be continually guided by it.

I took on memorizing scripture as my “Lent Project” this year.  I do so much better if I don’t try to “sacrifice” something, because—let’s be honest—what on earth makes me think that I can come up with anything that remotely compares to the kind of Sacrifice God made for me?  Yeah no, I can’t.  Anyway, I took on scripture memorization.  I posted verses on the bathroom mirror, hall mirror, my door, my bedroom dresser mirror, and my desk at work.  And ya know, you really have to be careful with that because before you know it—God’s going to have you memorizing something that changes everything!

My prayer is that I’ll be burdened to desire God’s Word more.  I don’t want to just memorize it for the sake of memorizing.  (That’s kind of how my Lent Project worked)  I want to want to know it.  To hide it in my heart—past the movie quotes, random facts, and Duke Basketball stats.  I want to soak it up and really know it in a fashion that it makes me more confident in knowing the heart of God.  If I know God’s heart, I’ll know His desires for how to use me in this lifetime, what the right choices in my decisions are, and what the future actually holds for me.  And something tells me that… everything else will just fall into place as a result.

If I Could Tell Guys Just One Thing

I figured it was only fair to counter last night’s post with guys’ version.  Oh gosh, I hope I can wrap everything up into “one thing”.  My guy friends can tell you that when I get asked (or when I just volunteer) my opinion about what I think guys should be doing—I have a hard time getting off my soapbox. 

I saw a Facebook post once that said, “Every morning I get up with the preconceived notion that all guys are jerks then wait for someone to prove me wrong.  That hasn’t happened yet.”  While I don’t necessarily believe that all guys are jerks, I do think most girls are walking around believing that.  I know we shouldn’t group you all together, but I think it’s so easy to do that because the jerks are out-shining the few good guys that are still out there. 

I wish that the guys that are aiming to be sold out for Jesus would step up and show us that they’re out there.  Where are the guys that will assume the responsibility of leading and initiating in their relationships, even just friendships, with girls?  Where are the guys that will be the spiritual leader?  Where are the ones that will do the little things in their relationships with women that communicate they care, respect, and desire to protect?  This doesn’t have to be hard.  You just have to simply be a gentleman to the women in your life; show them that their status as a woman is a righteous one.  Just remember that you’re not doing these things to impress or win a woman’s heart.  You’re supposed to do these things for God’s glory.  You’re to do them to serve a sister in Christ and honor her as a woman.  It’s good practice for your future wife!

Now I know that girls don’t make that easy on you.  Some are so caught up in stepping up for you that they don’t really give you a chance.  Others just need you to stop being nice to them unless you plan to propose.  Both give the rest of us a bad reputation.  I know—most girls can be crazy and don’t make it easy on you at all.  Do me a favor and don’t group us all together!  Strive to seek out the girls that are genuinely striving to be Godly.  (I could expand on that, and will, just not right now.)    

Instead, I’ll sum in up in an Elisabeth Elliot quote, “The world cries for men who are strong—strong in conviction, strong to lead, to stand, to suffer.  I pray that you will be that kind of man—glad that God made you a man, glad to shoulder the burden of manliness in a time when to do so will often bring contempt.”  

If I Could Tell Girls Just One Thing

I know that it may be offensive to some but, if I could tell girls just one thing, it would be to slow down and just be the girl.  We complain all the time that guys don’t man up, and while I think that’s true for most guys—it’s not true for all guys.  I think the reason that some guys aren’t stepping up to be men is because girls are standing in their way.  I’ve heard so many girls, women, say lately that they just want to be pursued.  Yet, they keep doing the pursuing. 

I’ve seen “He’s Just Not That Into You” at least fifty times and in a lot of ways the movie just makes me laugh.  For example, there’s a moment when Mary makes a statement this is so true of how today’s generation functions, especially when it comes to how we “communicate” and how frustrating it can be.  I laugh because there’s a lot of truth in her statement and I’m sure if anyone was to watch us do it—they’d think we were nuts.  She paints the perfect picture to her friend when she says,

“I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work so I called him at home and then he e-mailed me to my Blackberry and so I texted to his cell and then he e-mailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn’t. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”

 There’s a lot of truth in that statement!  It is exhausting to run around so caught up in: has he called me? Did he text me?  Maybe he Facebook-ed me or e-mailed me.  Why hasn’t he contacted me all day?  It’s also really disappointing when he doesn’t, right?  Another character, Gigi, spends the entire movie seeking advice from Alex (the guy’s perspective) and every single time she calls with a new scenario and her one million possible interpretations of the moment he always comes back with, “If a guy wants to be with you, he’ll make it happen.”

Now I know that taking advice from a Hollywood film is not always wise, but that’s a statement that I wish girls would take to heart and remember when they’re in the middle of doing the initiating and pursuing.  If only they would stop and remind themselves that if they guy wants to be with you—he’ll step up. 

Today, as I walked through our building and to my office, my eye was caught by a young girl who seemed to be (literally) throwing herself at the boy across the table from her.  I wondered out loud if I was anything like that, secretly knowing that I was.  I vividly remember the first boy to make me crazy.  A girl will never forget the first boy she ever likes.  I also vividly remember making a lot of moves that I now wish I could take back.  Ladies, and guys please correct me if I’m wrong, it’s pretty safe to assume that until a guy expresses interest in you, you’re just friends.

Elisabeth Elliot once said, “A real woman understands that man was created to be the initiator, and she operates on that premise.  This is primarily a matter of attitude.  I am convinced that the woman who understands and accepts with gladness the difference between masculine and feminine will be, without premise or self-consciousness, womanly.”

My prayer is that you’ll be this kind of woman—a woman who uses her gifts, develops her mind, and is passionate about God, and yet who is, without question, womanly.  I realize the attitude Elisabeth Elliot describes runs against the grain of our culture.  In many ways women today are encouraged to be anything and everything that can dream of—except Godly and feminine, womanly.  But don’t take your cues from culture!

If I could tell girls just one thing it would be: God will make you beautiful and will attract truly godly men to you, in His timing.  Make Godliness and inward beauty your priority.  Godly guys are looking for Godly girls.  If they aren’t, then they’re not Godly.  Aim to be Godly!  Then I would ask: Are they over-looking you?

Suicide

I don’t know that I will ever be able to wrap my mind around suicide, so when I get the call that someone I know has taken their life– I struggle.  I’m in the midst of that struggle today, because I got the call that a girl I knew (what now feels like a lifetime ago) committed suicide.  For whatever reason, God allowed me to be born in a Christian home so I’ve known of Jesus my whole life.  I’ve also actually known Him most of it too.  Maybe that’s part of why I just can’t wrap my mind around suicide– I’ve never known that kind of loneliness, desperation, or depression. (And the list goes on.)  I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming anyone, I’m not!  I just wish that there weren’t people getting that lonely, and no one know until it’s too late.  I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but until then—I’m resting in Jesus, thankful He welcomes my confusion and tears, and trusting that He will use this for His glory.  I’m also playing my friend Cindy Johnson’s song a lot….

Can I Just Cry This Time?

Lord, this prayer won’t be like the rest

If You don’t mind I’d like to change my routine

There’s a world that’s in need

And lives to be changed

But for once I’d like to pray differently

Cause my heart hurts so much

And my anguish is such

That I feel as if my world is on the verge of crashing down

As simple as it may sound

I ask you, Lord

 

Can I just cry this time?

Can I just lean on Your shoulder?

Can I draw strength from your hand?

Can I be held in Your embrace?

As I walk this lonely mile,

I may not find the answer.

But what I need is You to hold me

For just a little while

 

Sometimes I just push emotions aside

When I bring my request before Your throne

I guess I think You’ll believe

I’m stronger than I feel

That I’m doing just fine on my own

But I’ve come to a place

In the midst of this race

I can no longer hide the pain

That’s shattering my soul

And right now I feel so cold

I ask You, Lord

 

Can I just cry this time?

Can I just lean on Your shoulder?

Can I draw strength from your hand?

Can I be held in Your embrace?

As I walk this lonely mile,

I may not find the answer.

But what I need is You to hold me

For just a little while

Run, Forrest. Run!

I came in from work this afternoon and just crashed for a little while.  I was absolutely exhausted and feeling like someone had just sucker-punched me.  I thought that if I could just catch a power nap before supper, I’d feel much better. 

I went to my room and crawled under the covers hoping that for just about an hour– no one would need me for anything.  My body had shut down, no problem.  It was my mind that was the problem.  I suddenly started thinking about all of the things that I’d managed to push to the back of my mind lately.  In the midst of all of those things scrolling through my mind, I also had pictures of people that I’ve been going to call back for a while now and haven’t.  Next thing I knew I started thinking about and analyzing/evaluating things that had been said to me in the last 24 hours and whether or not they took my responses like I meant for them to.  My mind just would not shut off!  Then I just got annoyed and there was too much banging in the kitchen that was causing Zeva to yelp and my mom was walking in to see if I was interested in trying to eat, so I gave up and got on out of the bed.

I went on and had supper with everyone else, got a shower, watched the American Idol finale, and sat down to dive into the Word and try to just soak up God’s presence and listen.  I’ve been diligently seeking His face on two big (to me, at least) things in my life right now and am trying to get better at just listening.

So, I started with prayer time.  Next thing you know, it was very much like Jenny and Forrest in Forrest Gump.  Jenny’s come back to Forrest’s house and they’re hanging out all the time.  It’s one of my favorite moments in the movie when Forrest says, “Every day we’d take a walk, and I’d jabber on like a monkey in a tree and she’d listen about ping-pong and shrimpin’ boats and Momma makin’ a trip to Heaven.   I did all the talkin’.   Jenny most of the time was real quiet.”  That about sums up how my “listening” is going these days.  I’ll get still and quiet and the next thing you know I’m reminding God that my friend’s dad’s really sick and in my opinion, their world’s been through enough (you know, as if my opinion is what the Lord works off); my sister needs clear direction on what’s next, she just graduated college; another friend is going through a rough divorce; another friend needs discernment on how to handle the gray areas of life with her inquisitive seven year old; I need serious clarity in two areas of my own life and while patience is a virtue, I’m okay with Him just granting me patience instead of having to learn it.  (You know, if that’s okay with Him, of course.)  Just like Forrest, I was jabbering on like a monkey in a tree and just like Jenny– God was spending most of the time real quiet.  I have no problem listening when other people talk, why was listening to the Lord so hard?  Did He just not want to tell me yet? 

I turned in my devotional and found that today’s scripture was 1 Samuel 3.  Well, wouldn’t you know?  It’s the story of the LORD calling to Samuel while he’s in bed.  Each time the LORD stood there speaking, Samuel would jump out of bed and go see Eli, assuming that’s who was calling him.  Three times, the LORD tried to speak to Samuel.  Three times, Samuel took off in a different direction.  It wasn’t until Samuel got still and responded to the LORD that the LORD was able to tell Samuel what He had wanted him to hear the whole time.  Well, the only way Samuel could have responded to God is if he heard him, right?  That’s going to mean that he was quiet enough to hear him speak.  That’s where I struggle!

God wants to communicate with us and He tries to get our attention, but sometimes we’re just not paying attention.  He shouts, whispers, and tries many ways but it’s useless if we’re not listening.  I’m learning that when it comes to successfully completing prayer, it doesn’t matter how God responds to us; the important thing is that we’re listening. 

God WILL communicate with us, if we will develop a listening ear and listening heart.  We just need to identify the distractions in our lives that drown out God’s voice and then stop “jabbering on like a monkey in a tree” and be the one to “spend most of the time real quiet”.  

Enough

The theme of today seemed to be “enough”.  I think we ran the gamut of how the word was used too.

It started with the frustration side.  Heard one man say, “I’ve had enough of this whole divorce thing, so yeah I’m pretty bummed.”  I heard one mom say, “I’ve just had enough of that kid tattling to me about my kid all the time.”  I heard a co-worker say, “I’ve had about enough of people asking the very question that I just answered for them.”  “It’s getting harder for us to see the standard when all of the ‘wrong’ in the world is becoming the ‘normal’.  I’ve about had enough of us not sticking to the standard that Jesus set.”  I shared in her sentiments as a really good friend of mine said, “I’m so tired of trying to live up to the expectations of others.  I know their intentions are good, but I’ve had enough of people telling me what my plan should be instead of asking me what I’m up to these days.”

Somewhere in the day, we migrated to not feeling like enough.  I heard or even said the traditional: “I’m not thin enough.”  “He’s not smart enough.”  “I’m not young enough.” “He’s not tough enough.”  “We’re not pompous enough for them, but do we want to be?  No.”   “I don’t think I’m old enough for that.”  “I’m not pretty enough.”  “I don’t think he sees me like that, maybe I’m just not enough for him.”  “I’m not tan enough to pull that off.”  “No, we’d never work out.  I don’t want enough of the American Dream for her.”

I know that it hasn’t been that long since I both admitted and announced that I’m not perfect, but that feeling of not being “enough” or seeing someone else as not “enough” is running rampant amongst the people that I know and love, as well as those that I’m just passing by.  Speaking of “enough”… I’m definitely there with people feeling that way.

Satan has a firm grip on our insecurities and he’s chipping away at our hearts through them.  Why do we continue to give him that power?  I’m just as guilty.  It’s not unusual for me to be lying in my bed at night and find myself overwhelmed with the feeling that I’m not good enough for something or even someone.  I play that comparison game of “they would be better at it than I am” or “he probably thinks I’m too _____” or “maybe I’m not ______ enough for him”.  What is it about us that causes us to want to live up to someone else’s standards?  What is it about us that wants to be liked so much, as if that’s the model Jesus gave?

I’m learning that it’s more than just me not listening to Satan whisper lies in my own life.  It’s standing guard for others as well.  It’s saying and showing to my neighbor, “I’ve had enough of people telling you that you’re not good enough or like them enough.”  Jesus set the standard for that by pointing to His Father through loving His neighbor.  For us to do anything less than that– is not okay!  Tenth Avenue North sums it up in their song “You Are More”:

“Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”  (You Are More)

I long for the day when that’s the only message that comes out of my lips and through my lifestyle.  I’m determined that’s soon!  Pray I get there…

Kitchen Table Talk

I have grown up at my moma’s kitchen table; a million memories have been made there.  My dad and his brother made it about two or three years after my parents got married and it has been the mainstay in so many memories.

Natalie, Andrew, and I have gotten in trouble for playing Wheel of Fortune with the Lazy Susan that sits in the middle.  I don’t know if you know this or not, but if you line the outside of a Lazy Susan with Cheerios– it looks an awful lot like Pat Sajack’s big wheel.  The only difference is, Pat never had to set his wheel back up after each and every spin.

We’ve cut many a cake, growing up, while friends and family were circled up around us, singing “Happy Birthday”.  It was at our kitchen table that my dad made the big announcement, when I was going into the seventh grade that he was quitting his job and going back to Divinity School.  Several late summer nights have been spent around that table as us girls and our friends crowded chair after chair around it to play cards.  I have laughed until my sides hurt on nights like that, but we’ve also shared some of the heavier news with each other while waiting our turn to go.  Even now, as busy and far away from each other as we may get, many of those same friends will gather there every Thanksgiving morning for breakfast.

The kitchen table is where some of the best stories from our days have been shared.  We’ve heard about a four year old, in a program Brittany was working with, who finally said “Moma” for the first time and all the cheers that followed from other moms in the room that day.  We’ve heard how the kid in Natalie’s class, that didn’t stand a chance at the beginning of the year, scored higher than ever on his EOG’s.

If that kitchen table could talk, I think it would talk about all the fun, laughter, tears, and just plain ol’ life-sharing that has gone on there.

If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, it wasn’t much different for Him either.  It was around a kitchen table that Jesus ate with tax collectors and taught us that He did not come to invite good people.  He came to invite sinners.  It was over dinner plans that Martha learned what was most important, the presence of Jesus.  Jesus even invited Himself to eat with Zacchaeus.  One of the biggest announcements Jesus could have made to his friends was around the table when He told Judas that he would betray Jesus.  It’s also when He said, “I give to you a new commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another”.

What is it about sitting around a table, eating, that makes it so easy to talk?  Is it because there are things to hold, stir, and drink so it feels less awkward?  Maybe it’s knowing that you don’t have to worry about who’s sitting around you, like you do at restaurants.  I have no idea!  It must be something absolutely Divine, because life can really get shared around a kitchen table. 

So I dare you… gather around the kitchen table. Listen to someone’s story; they’re probably dying to have someone to share it with.  Make a big announcement.  Feed someone else for a night.  Just play some cards and catch up.  I guarantee it’s going to change someone’s life if you let God move in that moment; yours or someone else’s.  Either way, it’s a win!