I Miss Record Stores

IMG_0833

I’m a big fan of Amazon. You can find virtually anything from music to books to movies to electronics and appliances. I think you can even order groceries there now. But I miss record stores.

I don’t even mean places like Borders that sold books and music and movies. I mean places that sold music. Period.

Granted, there are one or two record stores in Nashville– one that actually sells honest-to-goodness vinyl records like in the ye olden days. But those are on the other side of town from where I live. Not the most convenient places to go browsing.

I remember one particular music store chain called The Sound Shop. There was even Memphis-based chain in Memphis called Cat’s Music that had both new and used music.

I loved checking out the new music releases as well as hunting through the bargain bins. I especially remember seeing ads for a new Grateful Dead album coming out on October 31, 1989. I don’t know why I remember that specific memory from 25 years ago and not what I did last night, but that’s how my brain works, apparently.

I read somewhere that Vince Gill said that one of the reasons that music feels so disposable these days is that you can pay the same 99 cents for a song that you would pay for an app on your phone that makes fart noises. So much for incentives to be creative.

I believe that music more than any other form of media can trigger memories in vivid detail. I can hear a song on the radio or from one of my own personal plethora of CDs that I have accumulated over the years and instantly remember exactly where I was and what I was feeling when I first heard it.

Maybe record stores (along with bookstores) will make a comeback some day. I hope so, but I’m not overly optimistic.

 

 

Keep Calm and Drink Coffee

image

Well, it’s Friday. I’m currently house- and dog-sitting for a very well-behaved and gentle dog named Millie.

I’m also reading a very interesting book written by a lady with autism. It’s fascinating to see her thought processes and hear how she sees the world differently than I. It’s also amazing to see how she has basically taught herself how to overcome most of her autistic tendencies.

I still think that ALL of us at some level are fundamentally broken. We all have some kind of phobias or issues that keep us from always acting normal. Some are better at hiding it than others, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are just as broken as the rest of us.

I’m so very glad Jesus didn’t come for the healthy. He came for the sick. The destitute. The abused. The abuser. The lonely. The broken. Us.

In those moments when you feel like you will never be normal and accepted, remember that Jesus doesn’t think you’re normal. He thinks you’re extraordinary.

Leave It to Mr. Lewis

CS Lewis-1

Tonight in my Life Group, we were discussing how to explain to a nonbeliever why a Christian would want to be obedient to Jesus. Ok, that’s simplifying it a bit. It was a 30 minute discussion.

Basically, the question was this: if we’re truly free in Christ, why do we still feel compelled to do what He tells us to do instead of what we want to do. In all the discussion, I had a lightbulb moment. Why not google C. S. Lewis and find out what he had to say on the subject of obedience? After all, he was a smaht man (said in my best Forrest Gump voice).

Here’s what I found:

[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” 

Yep. There’s a reason why I’ve liked this guy all these years. It turns out he said some fairly astute things during his time. Who knew?

For real, if I had to pick the most influential believers of the 20th century, I’d start with Billy Graham and C. S. Lewis. If for nothing more than those Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis deserves the honor. But he wrote so many classics. I’d go so far as to say that I don’t know of a book of his that I don’t consider a classic.

What was my point? I think it was obedience. To me, obedience is not a “have to” but a “get to”. It’s not like we’re burdened with all these heavy burdens and restrictions and commandments that strangle and restrict. No. Love fulfills the law. These burdens of Jesus are light and a joy to bear. And the obedience is the fruit of a life spent close to Jesus.

Just as you and I become most like the people we spend the most time with, so believers become more like Jesus when they spend time with Him and end up doing what He did and living like He lived. They end up looking and sounding and acting just like Jesus. That to me is obedience.

 

Choices

Dumbledore

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices” (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

Yes, I know. I just quote from a Harry Potter movie. Egads.

I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies and I liked every one of them. I especially liked the magic as metaphor theme. I think that these books aren’t really about magic as much as they are about growing up, discovering who you are, and learning what truly matters. But that is a topic for another blog on another day.

I do think that it’s not our abilities but what we do with them that ultimately matters in the end. I’ve seen people with loads of natural ability bested by people not nearly as talented but far more determined. Especially in the arena of sports.

One of the most famous choices is the one Joshua made early in the history of the nation of Israel. He basically said that while the others were free to worship whatever gods they wanted that he and his family would choose to serve Yahweh and Yahweh alone. No other.

That same choice is offered to me. Daily. And daily I must choose whether I will serve Jesus or something else, which usually ends up being my own selfish desires. Sometimes I actually choose right, but more often than I’d like I choose wrong. I choose me.

Also, I think we choose whether or not we’ll give up on those who let us down or give them second chances. We choose who we let into our inner struggles and who we shut out. We choose role-playing versus authenticity and honesty.

But ultimately, it’s about who to serve. As the famous theologian Bob Dylan said, you gotta serve somebody. So who will you choose?

Going Back to Narnia

image

Once again, I’m heading back to the wonderful land of Narnia.

For those who either a) live under a rock and haven’t heard of Narnia or b) aren’t as into books and reading as me, here’s what I mean. I’m rereading The Chronicles of Narnia, making it the 15th year running that I have read through these books. Maybe more than that. I haven’t exactly kept a precise count.

For me, it’s like going back to a familiar vacation spot or visiting old friends you haven’t seen in a while. It’s very much like going to a favorite restaurant or shop or location that you haven’t been to in a while.

I’ll get to meet up with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (the inspiration for my cat’s name, in case you were wondering) as well as all the Narnian characters such as Mr. Tumnus, Puddleglum, Glimfeather, Prince Rilian and others. Especially Aslan. And if you don’t know who these people are, I highly recommend finding out by picking up these books. You won’t regret it.

I have the full-color collector’s editions with illustrations by Pauline Baynes. Those are the best, in my opinion, but any way you read them– in dusty old books or on a Kindle or some other electronic reading device– the stories are always captivating and charming and exciting and endearing. Even if you’ve read them as many times as I have.

Old books are the best, I think. Particularly the ones that have a bit of a musty, used smell and a worn, loved feel about the cover and pages. I’m all for Kindles and iPads, but the reading experience just isn’t the same. Call me old-fashioned.

Well, I suppose that if I want to get to Narnia, I should probably wrap this little blog up. Maybe I’ll see you there.

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found

image

I just finished watching the last episode of Lost.

I know. I’m about four years behind the rest of you who saw the series finale when it aired way back in 2010. But what can I say? I like to wait until TV shows are over so I can watch them in their entirety at my leisure. Or I can cram a whole season into a weekend. It all depemds on my mood.

I had heard that the ending of Lost was unsatisfying for many and left a lot of unanswered questions. I didn’t find that to be true for me. I loved the ending. And don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.

Well, I changed my mind. So sue me.

Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know how the show ends. Go make some popcorn or go take a restroom break.

I love the way they were all reunited at the end. I especially love how it took place in a beautiful church building. I don’t care if they were all dead and ghosts or whatever. It gave me a good picture of what heaven will be like. Especially with how they brought back all the characters they had killed off in previous episodes.

Ok. You out there who didn’t want to know about the series finale can start reading again. No more spoiler alerts. Or spoilers.

I love a good story told well, whether the medium is a book or a movie or TV series. I love the satisfaction of having my expectations thwarted only to find the outcome was better than my predictions. God is like that.

Now I have to find the next TV series to get hooked on. I’m currently taking ideas and suggestions. Or I could just read a good book.

Letting The Door Close for Good

image

I have a picture on my iPhone. It’s me with a friend at Centennial Park, under a picture-perfect summer night sky. I have my arm around her and we’re both smiling. We have just been swing dancing and having a grand time. We look like such good friends.

I had that picture. Up until tonight. I deleted it. I let that proverbial door close. You know. The one almost closed but barely held open by one of those rubbery door stop thingys? The one that once it’s closed you can never re-open?

It’s now closed. I believe her chapter in my life is over. I prayed my goodbyes and grieved over the friendship’s end. My next steps are moving on.

It’s not like she’s a bad person or even that the friendship was wrong. But I think sometimes you have to let go of something that was good– or even very good– in the past to be able to receive God’s future best.

Sometimes you have to say goodbye to your dream in order that God can dream a bigger and better dream in and for you.

So I’m letting a few things — and a few people– go. I hold no bitterness and no more regrets. I cherish the memories but realize that I must move on as they have already moved on.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in the coming weeks and months, but I know it will be good. I love the imagery in this quote from a book I’m currently reading:

““So here’s my thought: Your best thought on your best day falls 15.5 billion light-years short of how great and how good God really is. Even the most brilliant among us underestimate God by 15.5 billion light-years. God is able to do 15.5 billion light-years beyond what you can ask or imagine” (Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker).

Saturday Night’s Alright for Slacking

IMG_1439

I did nothing tonight. Hard as it is to believe, I spent this Saturday evening in front of the idiot box with a very sleepy cat/therapist named Lucy. This jetsetter, this man about town, actually had a quiet night.

And the world didn’t come to a screeching halt.

Do you ever wonder that people forget about you the moment you leave the room? That when it comes to priorities, you’re not high up on anybody’s list? That ultimately you don’t truly matter to anyone?

Sure, I’ve felt that way some nights. But I know this.

There is never a moment that goes by where I’m not in God’s sight, on His mind, and engraved on His hands and on His heart. He loves me completely, unconditionally, unwaveringly, every second of every day of eternity.

God loves you the same way. God loves each person as if they were the only person who had ever lived and could receive the fullness of Love itself.

That kind of love meets you where you are but does not leave you that way. It can’t help but transform the beloved into the image of the Lover. You become most like what you love most. Always.

I can’t say that staying home was my first choice. Or even on my list of top twenty choices.

But here I am, thankful even on a slow Saturday night that I have everything I need in the world right here. Finding the joy on nights like this really does transform how you see the rest of your life. Giving thanks for the small things makes room to receive the greater things.

I think I’ll sign off in a bit here and go do some actual reading of an actual book, with actual pages that turn and everything. How novel.

May you know in full (or as fully as a finite human can comprehend the infinite) how much your Abba really does love you at every moment, whether you feel it or not.

That’s all for now.

Another Bonfire and More Eucharisteo

image

My community group met at a friend’s house for a bonfire. This wasn’t quite like the last one. I felt like a bit of a fifth wheel (or in this case, a seventh wheel).

I’m not blaming anybody but myself. I was tired and not feeling particularly Tookish. For those who have a life and haven’t read everything Tolkien has ever written at least ten times, it means my social butterfly side was dormant and my awkward caterpillar side was in charge.

I left early and ended up at Blue Coast Burrito. The girl who worked there complimented me on my I Am Second bracelet and that led to a good conversation. It turns out she is a missionary with Mobilizing Students and is looking to go live overseas in the next year or two.

It was a God-moment. Eucharisteo at work. If I had gone to Bar-B-Cutie’s (like I very nearly did), I would have missed this moment. If I had stayed at the bonfire, I would have not met Jenny, whose fervor for her calling blessed me.

God has a funny way of turning off nights into new adventures. I’m learning in my walk of faith to expect the unexpected and to be certain that God is always working around me, even on random Friday nights in October.

I don’t know what I’ll be doing this time tomorrow or where I’ll be. I know the same God who showed up tonight will be there and I know it will be another good night.

image

A Beautiful Puritan Prayer

image

“O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.”

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Edited by Arthur Bennett