Oct 24, 2014

My People Do Not Live In That Magazine...



It appeared in my mail box one week. I though it must be a fluke. Then the next week, and the week after. I asked my daughter if she knew why... she looked at me with a smile as I held it out like it was on fire. She knows how I feel about it. Her friends know, my family knows. A waste of precious time, energy and one more thing to help me achieve the shallow life I aspire to.

Every week they come and every week I cringe at those People.
How can this be a weekly magazine? 
The time spent looking at someone else's life, while yours is passing by the window you sit beside. 

I think of the people in my life, the people with problems bigger than my imagination on my darkest day. The young son in a nearby community murdered as he worked at a pizza place. The mama on the news reel, sobbing this loss of her most precious boy.

The cancers that ravish young people, no respecter of age. 
The people who live a stones throw from me, without hope, many wondering how they will feed their children tonight.

The church I serve alongside, grasping to give hope to the youth of the community. Searching, praying, loving a group of people who have lost hope.
Some have never known hope, from babies they have felt loss, betrayal, fear. 
Unlike my kids... who were told they could be anything they dreamed, if they worked hard.

Parents working three jobs to feed these children, others who have left... because their hope had run out. Isn't hope eternal, offered to all?
Tell that to a girl who has been abused, bullied and thrown out. 
She talks hard, loud and is criticized by those who don't understand where she comes from. You know that line about walking in another persons shoes. Lets practice that here. 
Grace is the word, not judgment.

And then People shows up again... and I should care that Renee looks different, that Princess Kate is feeling better, that what's his name finally got married. These people, they matter... yes, a thousand times, yes. But not because of who they are, but because they have a soul and are a child of God, like you and me.

The problem with People is that is takes us away from the people we should be ministering to. The people in our community, down the street, the ones with no hope. 
Do you know what hopelessness looks like? 
It is the one thing we cannot live without. 
Hope is what meets us at the edge of quitting, swallowing those pills, cutting our wrists, selling ourselves... and pulls us back.
If we are without hope, we believe the dark lie and we swallow the pills. 
No one cares, no one loves you, you don't matter, no one will even miss you.
There is nothing darker than hopelessness. 

The people we can offer hope, through a kind word, a shared meal, an opportunity. These are the people Jesus asks us to read about.
 Not the People that show up in my mailbox. The ones we follow, worship, talk about. Smh... the idea makes me sick to my stomach.
I'm sorry if this offends you... but I'm offended that we are so shallow that we have bought into this lie. I hate it.

The people I can touch, hear words spoken through turned down mouths. Their stories, their loss, their crushed hopes and dreams. These are the people I want to read about... in the future. Where people stepped up, stepped in, came along side and offered hope.

Before you judge me critical, overbearing and finger pointing... let me point the first finger. 
At myself.
This post took form in a medical office, discussing options for removing the brown spots on my face.

You see, I don't need any extra help being shallow.
I seem to have it covered all on my own.
I think I'll keep the brown spots to remind me of this truth. 

What do you struggle with that society keeps throwing in your face?
How do you face it and make a difference?






Oct 23, 2014

Looking Back, Oskee-Wow-Wow...



He sent me a text. 
It said,
 “Just listened to Oskee -Wow-Wow Illinois. 
Misty eyes. 
Miss that place.”

I smiled.
It was not the first time he had spoken those words, 
though it had been awhile.

It had been awhile since we lived in Illini Country.

I wondered,
does he miss the Illini that much?
Does he have a vested interest? Is it his alma mater?
Did our kids go there?

Or is it something else?
Is it that these were magical moments in our life?
This is the place we grew up together. Where we drank deeply the sweet life in a town that embraced us.
Where we fell in love with corn and farmers and a team that wore orange and blue.

We learned there were sunsets without mountains to hide behind. We felt wind on our face and watched tornados twirl overhead. We felt heat off pavement that we believed an egg might fry on.

Days filled with sports and dance and walks in fields with four legged friends. Books were read, meals enjoyed, deep conversations shared with friends.

Friends that have stood the test of time. Now children, who stand taller than us,  seek one another out in different states, continuing the relationship their parents forged. 

Perhaps this is what makes the man misty eyed.
Perhaps this is what he thinks of when he listens to the sweet lyrics of the song.

Old Princeton yells her Tiger, Wisconsin, her Varsity
And they give the same old Rah, Rah, Rah,
At each University,

But the yell that always thrills me
And fills my heart with joy,
Is the good old Oskee-Wow-Wow,
That they yell at Illinois.

He is a sweet man who sings along…
Who knows there is no going back, as he embraces the gifts of his present and future. 

A solid man, that appreciates the past and still get misty eyed… because time goes so fast.

Oct 17, 2014

Know Your Audience...




Others are watching,
So
play to 
your audience.

And
 Remember...

You
have an 
audience
of 
ONE.

#GOD


Oct 15, 2014

I'm Attracted To Older Men...




I am attracted to older men. I admit it. Like a moth to a flame. Like putty in their hands...
I don’t want to be, it just happens. I can’t help myself. 
When I see their faces, something inside me pushes me towards them. Their eyes tell stories, hold memories, locked away... sometimes leaked out through tears. 

Before you judge, let me share more of the older men I am drawn to. They are elderly, think fragile. They are alone, sometimes a bandage framing their foreheads. A fall causing a break of the skin, similar to paper, dotted with scars of long life, too much sun, and repeat hospital visits.
They are parked in wheelchairs, off to the side or left in the middle of a room, no chair beside them for a chance encounter with a fellow human being. 
To be stared at from the other side of the room.
Airports are where we meet.

Last week I waited to board a flight when I spotted him. Exactly as I described above.
 I looked for an opportunity to speak with him. 
He was a bit flustered, his hands fiddling between his wallet and ticket. 

My phone rang. An opportunity to stand and walk away from others, not sharing my one sided conversation. A quick call and I found myself behind his wheel chair. I walked around to where I could see his face and he could see mine. 
I bent down, quietly asked if he was traveling alone. Yes. I asked if he needed anything, possibly a beverage. No.
I pointed to where I was sitting, telling him to wave if he needed anything. He thanked me. That was it. 
I watched for the next thirty minutes. No one looked at him, spoke to him or acknowledged his presence.
My heart broke a little. 
Always my response.

I thought back to a flight a few years ago. I had recently lost my dad, quickly and painfully. I had been flying to visit my mom, with a layover in Dallas. It was late at night when I saw him. Alone, in a wheelchair, fragile, having recently suffered the loss of his wife. He loved her dearly. He told me so. He was devastated and did not know if he would survive. His honesty and grief broke my heart, changed me forever. 
I wrote about this on November 30, 2012.  http://Love One Another

I struggled that night with how he could be left to travel so far alone, in such a broken condition. I struggled with the people around me who failed to see him. I struggle every time this happens. Then I began to think of the people I don’t see... but you see.
The people I walk by, ignore... yet you reach down, looking into their eyes.
You lift up, bandage, hold tight as you wipe away tears.
I am broken in my desire to help another human.
 I imagine it will always be this way.
It reminds me...
of my role.
To simply encourage who God puts in my path. My role is not to push you, shame you or force you into my role. 
As the Bible talks about the many parts of the body of the church in Romans 12:4
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function.”

I am grateful that we share this body of the church, of sisters and brothers. I hope we find our roles today and are able to lift another up.
I have been lifted up countless times by this body... and you have allowed me to find my role.




Oct 3, 2014

Let's Be Brothers And Sisters.... Don't Just Stand There.



If we call ourselves believers, brothers and sisters in Christ, should we not share a smile, lend a hand, offer a kind word... to those we have been given opportunity to meet?


If we are given a role of leadership, no difference whether it be a job or an opportunity to serve without pay.... both are a gift with eternal significance. 
Both should be done from a heart motivated to love as Christ.

Serve well, with the desire to reach out... to those you serve and serve with.
If our desire is for anything else, if we fail to reach out to those we serve beside, we have failed.  
Sometimes
we
forget
this.

If I do not love the person I stand beside, if I do not extend my hand and welcome them, why would I think I could touch someone else? 
I
will 
check 
my 
heart 
when 
I
volunteer
my time. 

I will look for opportunity to welcome those who may be new, unsure, shy, but want to be involved. 
Will you join me and be that smile to someone?
What a difference to be welcomed...
what a joy you can offer someone. 
Be a difference maker.
 Love God. Love people.