The Elephant in the Room

There’s an elephant in the room.

It’s been sneaking in for the past month. I have walked passed it, ignored it, covered it with a blanket,  and left the room.

Nothing works.

It’s still here.

It’s on the couch now. It knows I will have to face it. But I am not ready. Not yet.

So it moves closer and closer and closer.

I wish it would go away. But it’s my elephant and I had to face it…Sunday.

It will be one year on Sunday when I got that dreaded, unfathomable call that rocked my world forever. It haunts my thoughts continually. It had been a wonderful church service that morning and I was on cloud 9. We had lunch as a family and were settling down for a relaxing afternoon. It was the look on my daughter’s face that spoke the loudest, as she melted into tears while she echoed unfathomable words…”A*****’s mom died.” My heart fragmented at that moment. I still have not recovered all the pieces.

But until someone confirmed it, it couldn’t be true, right? She heard wrong! She couldn’t have her facts straight, not on this on. I spoke this over and over to myself so as to keep my head in some relatively sane form as I dialed a friend who had been trying to reach me. “It’s not true right?” Oh, how I know she wanted to tell me something other than the truth that was on her tongue. But her words shattered any remaining bit of hope I had.

She was gone.

Sometime that morning, while I stood in my church and worshipped my Lord with my hands held high, she held hers up and said, “I cannot take this life anymore.” As I worshipped the Lord who rescued me from the clutches of the enemy, that same God stretched out His arms and brought my beloved friend, the one who was closer than a sister, home.

I miss her. I ache for her. There is no one who can replace this friend, this one who was my closest friend, my sister. Regret? Always. Guilt? Everyday. Anger? At times. Sadness? Until I see her in heaven.

On Sunday, this elephant will be in my lap and I will have to deal with it. I will have to look at it face to face, and it’s big. It will walk with me all day and sit with me at every moment. My elephant will grace the stage with me as our Easter production, VNN, unfolds. And we will celebrate the anniversary of her homegoing on stage, at church together.

Just me and my elephant.

Advertisements

Be Brave. Be Fearless. Just Dance

As they prepared to present their first drama sketch in front of their peers at Youth Group, I told my youth drama team,

“Be brave. Be fearless!”

Without putting aside all their fears of what people will think and all the what if’s that their brains with inflict on them, they will not be able to step out of their comfort zones and perform to their fullest.

It was 5 am when I took over the long Ohio leg of our return journey home from New York. As my family slept, my heart was breaking. While memories of the past week flooded my mind and worship songs from my Ipod fought to fill the space that was rapidly filling with  pain, I asked God, “What do you want me to do with this? What am I supposed to do now?”

“I want you to be brave. I want you to be fearless.”

I’m tired.

I’m tired of hiding . I’m tired of hiding who I really am. I’m tired of letting my past define me.  I want to break away for good.

But I would have to be brave.

I would have to be fearless.

I would have to set boundaries that I am not sure I have the guts to set.

I would have to tell a story that hasn’t fully been told.

Be brave.  Be fearless.

I would have to step out in front of a firing squad that would take dead aim at me.

I would have to allow myself to be vulnerable.

Be brave. Be fearless.

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago and then I left it. I guess I wasn’t ready  to be brave or fearless.

But I haven’t stopped listening to Him. He has been speaking a lot lately. I could ignore Him out of fear that He is going to force me to be fearless and brave and I, well, I am really a wimp. But I am choosing to listen. Why? Because His words have reminded me of what fearless and brave look like.

It is a dance.

I first saw the dance in December 1990, when I watched this frail, yet beautiful woman dancing with Him. I thought I was dancing with Him. I thought I was in partnership with Him on the dance floor and He was leading. But when I saw her dance, I knew she had a completely different partner. She trusted her Partner whole heartedly to lead, and yet, my trust in my partner was waning.  My partner was dressed in fine clothing that made him seem to be the perfect partner, but his lead was not a tender, yet strong leading. It was forceful and controlling. There was no room for mistakes on our dance floor.

I found myself longing to have her partner. To feel, just for a moment, what it would like to let Him lead. But the pull and control of my partner was strong and I wasn’t sure I could ever pull away from this dance we shared.

She was a true friend to me. She loved me and prayed for me and never stopped caring for me. She spoke to me with truth, honesty, and love. But she never stopped dancing. She stayed firmly in His grasp, continuing to let Him keep leading her. She never tried to pull me away from my partner, no matter how much she wanted to, and force me to take hers. She just kept dancing. Kept dancing. Kept dancing. His grasp was the most important thing to her. And as much as she wanted me to experience that dance, it was too precious to her to let go of.

I watched her dance with Him through happy days.

I watched her dance with Him through diagnosis.

I watched her dance with Him in a bandana covering her baldness.

I watched her dance with Him on her death-bed.

And I watched Him lead her onto the eternal dance floor of heaven.

Because of her dance, it made me want to leave the partner I was with and let Him lead me. I wanted to dance that beautiful dance.

She showed me how to be brave. She showed me how to be fearless.

This was what God whispered to me this week…”Being brave and fearless doesn’t mean that you will force others to take MY HAND in this dance. It means that no matter what happens, YOU never let go of MY HAND. Not for a second. Not for a moment. Don’t let go out of shame or embarrassment. Don’t let go out of fear. Don’t let go because it seems too hard.
Don’t let go…because if they see you with Me, then they see Me.”

Be brave.

Be fearless.

I will be fearless as I lay my book proposal on the table. I will be brave when I present my Art on stage left. I will be fearless in a group of my peers, presenting my art through words in my own way.

And I will be brave as I foolishly dance this dance while others watch who do not know this dance orMy Partner.

And so, I will continue this dance with My Man on the dance floor that is uniquely ours. And with ever spin and dip along the way, I am confident that He will catch me. He will lead me.

And it will be a beautiful dance.

“Oh Lord I feel like dancing. It’s foolishness I know. But when The world has seen the light. They will dance with joy like I’m dancing now.”

This year, God has laid it on my heart to attend the She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, NC. She Speaks is a conference where women’s hearts connect with one another in a joint effort to connect other women to the heart of God. This is part of the dance that God wants me to join Him in, so I am following His lead to She Speaks.

If God is speaking to you about attending this conference, I would encourage you to visit A Holy Experience for a chance to win a scholarship to this incredible conference. You will also meet and beautiful woman, Ann Voscamp, whose book sits at my bedside filled with words that comfort me every night.

Dance to your fullest….

 


The Sun is Shining

“I cannot count the number of times I have been strengthened by another woman’s heartfelt hug, appreciative note, surprise gift, or caring questions…My friends are an oasis to me, encouraging me to go on. They are essential to my well-being.” Dee Brestin

 

I have a day-to-day calendar that sits at my bedside and these were the words I read last night as I was laying in my bed. So true…exactly how I felt at that moment. Thank you sweet friends for your love and tenderness you have shown. You truly are my oasis, whether you are right here in my church, my neighborhood or in states far away…you are my oasis! Even from someone who doesn’t know me, but whose devotion was ever so timely from Proverbs 31 yesterday. This is definitely a must read for everyone.

http://devotions.proverbs31.org/

I have been reading through the one-year Bible since August and I am at the point in which God is giving Moses all the laws that the Israelites are to follow. At times, I will admit, it can be boring. But everyday I walk away with a nugget that I have held onto all through the day. This morning it was this (my own changes marked):

“I will live among you and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my girl. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the the cult so you would no longer be their slave. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your head held high.” Leviticus 26:12,13

So today, the sun in shining and a new day is rising. I will stand with my head held high, thanking God even more that I am free of that yoke of slavery. I am signing up for “She Speaks” TODAY (Yeah! Huge foam finger waving in the air right now!), believing God will provide the funding I need, and feeling ever more confident in my calling.

Also, He spoke to me…I have a teaching that has been sitting on the back burner for almost two years as I have waited for a place to use it. He told me to finish it and then there would be a place to share it. So I’m diving in…

You are all a treasure.


Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Home.

I’m back.

Home sweet home.

I am sad today.

Broken would be a better word.

I wish I had never gone.

These are hard words to say. I love my home where my first roots were established, but I have never felt so…unloved. I have five siblings but only two came to see me. Did I mention they all live in the same town?…two on the same street as my parents whom I was staying with? But they didn’t come. Of the two who did come to see me, hurtful words flowed like sarcastic jokes, literally. I guess we are all supposed to be comfortable with our screwed up family that the pain and hurt of one of their own can be laughed at in front of them.

Of course, I know that part of the reason that they don’t come is because my presence induces pain. My presence stirs up feelings and hurts of their own that they chose this time to deal with by not seeing me. They wanted to stuff it away, like a dirty casserole pan that they would rather not clean. Out of sight, out of mind!It’s not that I’ve hurt them. It’s that my presence stirs up those issues that 4 of the 6 of us walked away from when we left the cult. I was the only one who chose to face it. Now…I wish I had stuffed the dirty dish into a garbage and forgotten about it.

I was compared. I was judged. I was ignored. I was rejected. I was told I don’t measure up to others…they are soooo generous. I have never walked away from my mom before when she was talking to me, but I just could not hear her say it to me again. Why do you want to hurt me? Is this what you think will make me come back to that stupid religion? Aaarrgghh!!!

It was my birthday while I was up there. Boy, I haven’t felt that feeling in 20 years…the feeling that “your birthday will be ignored today.” Stupid me for thinking I would be fine spending it up there. It hurt…deep. I felt bad for my man who tried to make it great, but given the circumstances…hhmmpph! Poor guy.

So today I am thankful to be home, but I am sad. I am a big ball of emotions. I stood out in the storm today just to feel the strength of God’s power, to be reminded that God is bigger than all my problems. I played in the rain and the raging creek water with my dog, who missed me a lot and I missed her, to spend time with someone who truly wanted to be with me. I cried over the funniest e-card ever that someone sent for my birthday.

I cried because someone loves me.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m loved. My family, at least some of them, love me. But my friends who are my true family, love me WELL. And coming home to a place where I am loved so well  and missed so much has just overwhelmed me today. I am so thankful for this place and for my friends, my brothers and sisters-in-Christ.

So there are my ramblings. This isn’t the post I was hoping to write. I was hoping to tell you that a miracle had happened and walls came down. Instead, it seems that more have been erected. So I have returned from the land where I am an alien and was truly treated like one.

There is no place like home amongst my fellow alien beings.

 Na nu! Na nu!


I AM AN ALIEN!!!!!

Tomorrow I will be homeward bound.

 I miss my home, my mama, my dad. I miss waking up in my very chilly bedroom and walking out into the warmth of the hub of their home where a wood stove crackles and invites you into its warmth. There truly is no place like home and my heart and mind have been aching for this place.

My home in western New York is nestled in a valley with hardwoods surrounding it on all sides. This is where I AM FROM. In the winter when you walk out into the chilly night air and stand knee-deep in snow, there is nothing to hear except the noise of nature, the wind whistling down through the valley as the starry sky above makes you feel miniscule while the moonlight dances on the snow. It is truly a magical place. This is where I was born and this is my foundation.

But as much as I feel at home there, I feel more and more like an alien in a strange land every time I venture back. My start was here and my roots run deep in this place. My family history in this area of the country is legendary and I am the only one in generations that has ever left. But my leaving was not because I wanted to move on to bigger and better things.

I was wooed away by God.

He called me out of this place I call home. He helped me sever my roots that were entangling me in certain death, and He rerooted me in Him, in everlasting.

I love going home, but it is always bittersweet. This culture that I walked away from has left scars that I am afraid will never mend. The worst pain I ever feel in my life is standing in my parents yard and looking over at my brother’s house next door, knowing that I am not welcome. knowing that he deems my life and actions as unforgivable, knowing what we once had is lost. In a family of 6 kids, I was closest to him…and now…I have forgotten the sound of his voice. I miss him. I long for his embrace. One year is too long to be separated from family, but 20 years? Heart wrenching.

I love my mama and there is no hug in the world that will ever compare to the hug of a mama. I love that my daddy still calls me his punkin’ wunkin’, even at almost 38 (on Tuesday). I love that home is always the same, yet I wish it were different. I wish to walk into that home one day and know that Jesus is present and welcome. I want to embrace my parents and my siblings as brothers and sister in Christ.

I want them to know what I know. 

Until then, I am an alien…


Artsy Fartsy

Blank.

Dull.

Bored.

Irritated.

Antsy.

These adjectives would describe my heart lately. It is like I have been waiting to move, to do, to busy myself. But not just busy myself with the mundane or the every day…rather to busy myself, my heart with art. My blogging friend, Emily, over at Chatting At The Sky has written a lot about art this past month. But as much as I have loved reading her stuff, I have been very bothered. Not by her writing, but by my lack of art right now. My art is the Art of Worship through Drama and Speaking. I am delighted beyond words to have found a place to serve my God that I know He delights in and is a total blast for me to do. I love to create and find art that we can use on a Sunday morning to bring glory and honor to the King of Kings.

But I have been blank…

empty…

I have had a bad case of writers block.

I have had a bad case of “I can’t find anything out there in the Worship Arts community that fits this sermon. Nothing!”

So I have put myself to work in other areas of “art” that I love, hoping to forget the elephant in the room, in my heart. I have painted my man’s entire store. I do love to paint. Painting a dirty wall a new hue with clean lines is a good thing that brings me such pleasure. I have fed my family. I have painted my room and my son’s room. I have played in the snow. I have held the cutest little bunny for days on end. I have sat with a friend while she waited for her husband undergoing a very intense, scary surgery. I have put up Christmas decor and taken it down. I have entertained guests and I have been the guest. I have done it all… all the while waiting for my art.

In reality, I am not waiting for my light bulb to light up with an incredible idea. I am waiting. for. God. to. speak….  

But when God starts speaking life into my heart, I am able to see the canvas as He would like it painted. This is the thing, it may be the art that I love to do, but He is the real artist. I am just His tool, His canvas, His brush. Without Him there is no Art. Without Him I am just a clanging symbol. I am just a gallon of paint waiting to be used. I will sit on a shelf until He is ready to express Himself through me. So I wait…

and wait.

But when it is time…

But when it is time, I come alive! It starts with a flicker of life in my mind.

It is a few lines scratched in a note pad.

It starts to take shape on a blank computer screen covered in my little boy’s finger prints where backspace and delete are on a continual cycle.

 

It becomes sloppy practice sessions and rehearsals where lines, feelings, drama, and staging are perfected.

Then, as the lights come up Sunday morning on the stage left, it becomes the tool He wants for that moment.

"Good girl...great job!"

For His people.

For the lost and the wounded.

For His glory.

This is my Art.

“How great Though Art!”


It’s a Little Linky to Say the Least

It is December 31st, 2010!  Today is my year in review and I want to share a few changes and accomplishments in my life that I feel are significant…so bare with me!

Today I finished the last book of Revelation with the help of The Chronological One Year Bible in the NTL. I loved it. Now to be truthful, I did not read the entire Bible in one year. I started it in August. But I am thrilled to say that I have read nearly half of it since August. At the end of July, I attended She Speaks, a speakers and writers conference in Charlotte, NC. One of my favorite break out sessions that I attended what called, “Teaching By The Book, by Wendy Pope. Wendy is an incredible woman and speaker who for the past year has led a Bible study of the One Year Bible on her blog. At her session, she encouraged anyone who wants to teach from the Bible to have read it cover to cover at least once, if not continually. Now I have read the Bible all my life, but I could never say that I had read it cover to cover, nor read it in a year. But I was up for the challenge. So as soon as I left the session, I went out to the book table and bought the Bible she recommended and I have not put it down since. I have loved every minute of it and have learned so much from reading it chronologically. I have also enjoyed checking in on her blog and hearing her teach about the passage of scripture I had read that day. She is truly a gifted teacher.

So tomorrow I will be sitting with my coffee and I will open up Genesis to begin the second half of my one year Bible!  Thank you Wendy for your encouragement and prompting!

Three books have also graced my nightstand since August. This is a big, fat, hairy deal because I am NOT a reader for the pure enjoyment of reading. Give me a how-to book and I will read it cover to cover. Give me a book on an animal that may be or has entered our family and I will not be able to put it down. But reading for the pure pleasure of reading?….I would rather poke my eyes out. But something stirred in me, again at She Speaks, to try reading a Christian novel and just see. So I did. I went to the recommended novels on the She Reads table and my eyes immediately went to “Demon: A Memoir” by author Tosca Lee. It looked intriguing and a little spooky. I decided that I should pick another one in case that one stunk and I didn’t want to be defeated and quit the reading for pleasure thing so quickly. As my eyes wandered the table and caught sight of one called “Daisy Chain” by Mary Demuth, a woman came up next to me and went on and on about how wonderful the book was. She seemed to be a lot like me, normal with a tad bit of weird, so I took her advice and bought it.

So here I am on December 31st and what came of those books? I LOVED THEM! I loved them so much that I am over half-way finished with Tosca Lees’s next book “Havah: The Story of Eve” and I am patiently waiting for the 2nd book, “Slow Burn”, in Mary DeMuth’s “The Defiance Texas” trilogy that started with “Daisy Chain” to arrive from Amazon. They are incredible, gifted writers. I am also eagerly anticipating Tosca Lee’s upcoming release of “Iscariot”, the story of Judas.

Today I also read my daily devotion that I receive from Proverbs 31 Ministries entitles “My New Year’s Prayer”, by Wendy Blight. Wendy was my 2nd evaluator at She Speaks that encouraged me to strongly pursue public speaking. Her devotion strongly prompted me to write my own New Year’s prayer.

Maybe, if I am brave enough, I will share it with you tomorrow. 

Signed,

God’s Groovy Girl