The Crud Life

I have the crud.

It’s the official term for when your allergies go nuts and you have that sneezing/coughing/runny nose/itchy throat/fuzzy headedness that goes along with it.

I’m there. And I’m not loving it.

So brevity may be the soul of wit, but it also may be due to hay fever.

Remember, God loves you the way you are, and not as you should be or wish you could be. He is looking at a future you that only He can see and it is better than anything you can imagine.

That’s it. Nothing exciting and nothing new. Just some old reminders from one tired Ragamuffin with the Crud.

 

 

Awakenings and The Gift of Being Alive

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Leonard Lowe: We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer: How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe: Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!” (Awakenings, 1990).

First of all, when did this movie get to be 25 years old? Where was I? Why wasn’t I consulted about this occurrence?

I do so love this movie. It reminds me of what a gift being alive is. It reminds me of the blessings of all those things that I daily take for granted that so many people don’t get to experience– waking up, breathing in fresh air, having the freedom to go and do as I please, being able to worship God freely.

The saying goes that every day may not be a good day, but there is good in every day. No matter how hard-pressed or stressed you are, you can still find the good if you look for it. Even in the midst of incredible loss and grief, there are blessings waiting to be found.

You have to train your eye. If you expect bad to happen, that’s all you’ll see. If you expect good, you’ll find it. You project onto others what you see in yourself (I learned that in one of my Psychology classes way back in my Union University days).

The best way is to look for God in every situation. You’ll find Him and you’ll also see whatever you’re going through in the best possible light.

As a friend of mine always says at the end of his blogs, just you think about that.

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Keep Calm and Don’t Forget to Breathe

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All of us have those moments of panic. Or maybe it’s just me. Like yesterday when I couldn’t find my keys. It was like they went to that special hidden worm hole where all those socks go.

I was sure I had set them down, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember when. In times like these, I remind myself to breathe. Take a deep breath and exhale it slowly.

I found my keys hidden under my wallet.

Sometimes, you get to anxious over what you’re missing and can look right at it without seeing it because you’re too distracted by trying to find it. Raise your hand if that made sense.

I have to remind myself that God is present even when my senses tell me He’s absent. Too often, I miss Him when I look for Him in times of stress and anxiety. Too many times I might be looking right at Him and not see Him because I’m too worried about finding Him.

He’s not lost. He never was. It’s me who gets lost. Breathing deeply helps me remember that. It helps to remind me that if I only stand still, God will come to where I am and find me.

I Almost Forgot

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I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but here I am, confessing that I almost forgot to write my blog for today. You’d think after nearly four years, I’d remember, but apparently, the mind really is the first thing to go.

It’s easy to forget. God’s people forgot time and time again how good He was to them. They chose to bicker and complain. They chose to chase after the idols and gods of the nations around them, even of the very nations they conquered and drove out.

I forget those things, too. I forget how God saved me all those years ago and how He’s blessed me since in so many ways. I, too, bicker and complain and run after other things to fill the needs only God could ever fill.

Thankfully, God is faithful to remind me of His goodness. I think that’s part of why He established His Church. He knew we’d forget and would need reminding from time to time. In fact, He calls us to remind each other, to encourage each other and to not give up the habit of meeting regularly to call to mind with thankful hearts what God has done for us.

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God I say it over and over. He’s all I’ve got left” (Lamentations 3:19-24).

Why I Write These Things

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Recently, I checked the stats on my WordPress blogsite. I discovered that my latest blog got a grand total of six views for the entire day.

It didn’t ruin my day but it was a bit depressing. For a little while.

Part of me still likes the idea of maybe one day getting thousands of readers. Part of me still thinks an all chocolate diet would be a good thing.

I write these blogs ultimately for me. Really and truly, I’m surprised that anyone other than me reads them. But if no one else but me read them, I’d still write them.

I have to remind myself periodically about a few things like 1) God’s unconditional love for me, 2) it’s okay to be me with all my quirks and flaws, and 3) I write these blogs because I need to read them. So you can look forward to seeing something similar to this post in about 6-9 months. Lucky you.

So maybe I’ll never become an elite blogger. Maybe I’ll never set any records for most views in one day. Maybe. Maybe not.

But for me it doesn’t matter. I want to keep being as authentic and honest and transparent as I can because someone out there might need to hear– or read– what I have to say. So even if I put in all that effort for one person, it will have been more than worth it. Even if that one person was me.

Bye Bye Blockbuster

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I found out today that Blockbuster will close it’s remaining stores by January. I know I haven’t rented or bought anything from one of their stores in a REALLY long time, but it’s still sad. It truly is the end of an era.

You might be old enough to remember going to Blockbusters on a Friday or Saturday night. For me, it was usually not having a clue about what to rent. Or the movie that I wanted was a) all rented out b) not in yet or c) not available for rental anymore. Plan B involved taking a chance on a lesser known movie or hitting the 99 cent middle section for an older flick.

Sometimes, I picked a classic and found a new favorite film. Other times, I ended up with a dud that was unwatchable. But at least it was an adventure. And it got me out of the house on those really slow weekends.

I’m old enough to remember the “Please be kind– rewind” stickers on the old videocassettes. To this day, I have no idea what happened to that Home Alone video I rented back in the early 90’s. True story.

You could say that Netflix killed Blockbuster. Or you could choose Redbox as the culprit. The truth is that times change and things come and go– like video rental stores, VHS, and pay phones.

I’m glad the only things that doesn’t change are God and His love for me. Not even my own weaknesses and stupid choices will void God’s love for me. The Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans says nothing in all the world can separate me from God’s love or cause that love to lessen or diminish in any way. Nothing.

Not even unpaid late fees on a Blockbuster rental.

What Does the Fox Feel?

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A friend of mine posed a very good question tonight at Chick-fil-A. I mean, everyone knows what the fox SAYS, but does anyone care about how the fox FEELS? Maybe foxy, if the fox is female. But what if it’s a male fox?

I saw a fox running across the parking lot of Brentwood United Methodist Church. I’m not sure how he or she felt about the current state of affairs or local politics. I didn’t get the chance to ask.

I know how I feel: tired. The kind of tired that makes me want to turn into a hibernating hermit. The kind where the social butterfly turns into the cranky caterpillar.

After tonight’s Kairos message, I know the question on the Final Exam, the one Jesus will ask me, won’t be how I felt about Him or how much information I amassed about the Bible. It will be about what kind of person I was.

It’s interesting that the people Jesus praises in Matthew 26 for serving Him by serving the least of these will be totally taken by surprise. They will have been so engrossed in following Jesus and taking on His character that the serving will be second nature, something they do without even thinking about it.

Too often, I am too focused on me. I’m reminded of the great definition of humility, which is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

Some days, that comes easily. Some days, it’s all I can do to notice the people around me from being so wrapped up in my own pity party and overanalyzing every little thing.

I am learning to allow myself to be imperfect and to have bad days and to occasionally lose focus. It’s not okay to stay there and it’s not okay to take it out on others. What I do is give thanks for the good date and those around me who see me at my worst and love me and help to bring out my best.

Even foxes have days when they don’t feel so foxy.

Blog #1,161

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I still write these blogs as reminders to myself of how good God’s been to me. I am so very forgetful and prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love, prone to return to broken cisterns of doubt and fear.

I write about grace so much because I love it so much, and I love it so much because I’ve needed it and found it at just the right times. Left to myself, I can very clingy and needy, very co-dependent, and self-absorbed. I am an approval-addict. An affirmation junkie.

But that grace of God found me. And it did not leave me where it found me. I found that Jesus’ amazing love for me makes me loveable. I discovered that it’s more than okay for me to be myself. It’s the best form of worship I can offer. Just me loving being me. Me refusing to be conformed to what everybody else says I should be, to what the media tells me I need to be to matter.

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I will never stop telling the story of how Eucharisteo forged my miracle, how a lifestyle of joy and gratitude and thanksgiving opened my eyes to manifold blessings and allowed me to open closed fists to receive more of God’s riches.

I am blessed. Even if I never have a six-figure salary. Even if I am ever more the friend and never the love interest, the guy girls want to marry. Even if I never get another blessing or another visible reminder of God’s presence.

Here’s to 1,000 more posts to remind forgetful me of how good my life is and how great God is. Here’s to all of you who keep encouraging me, challenging me, and blessing me in ways I will never be able to repay.

Thank you.

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Dar Williams and the Song in Your Heart

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According to Foursquare (an app on my iPhone), I hadn’t been to any concerts or movies at the Franklin Theatre since April. Until tonight.

I was in row D, seat 3 to hear one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Dar Williams, put on a great show. Even her opening act, Angel Snow, was fantastic. It was a good night.

Dar performed my two favorite songs of hers, “The One Who Knows” and “The Beauty of the Rain,” as well as several other gems. Her music always takes me to a peaceful place and her songs are most definitely an integral part of the ever-changing and ever-growing soundtrack to my life.

Jesus has been reminding me of the song in my own heart that I had begun to forget. Joy and thanksgiving, or eucharisteo, is my song and I’m thankful for friends and family who periodically remind me when I’ve forgotten the words or lost the melody.

I am one note in a living symphony of God’s love for the world He made. I may be only one small part, but without me, the symphony loses something. The same with you. The world around you needs to hear your own unique song and your small but vital part in God’s overture.

Let your life be the biggest hymn of praise that you sing. A hymn of thanksgiving, of hope restored, of dreams reborn, and of grace. Especially grace.

I will help to remind you of your song when you forget the words and root for you when your part in the Grand Symphony arrives. That’s what Church is for– to remind each other of the goodness of God and to love each other and God well. That’s a song the world around us has been dying to hear.

A Good Weekend

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As I stepped into my car to head home from a Sunday School class party, I could hear the hypnotic drone of cicadas and felt 10-years old again and ready for the next big adventure. That’s what life really is. At least for those who have their eyes open to appreciate the mystery and wonder in each gift God unwraps daily called life.

I still fondly remember running through the streets of downtown Nashville with my friend Katie to catch the next act at Live on the Green, Michael Franti. It was a moment I never imagined happening, yet if you were to ask what my all-time favorite moment was, this one would be climbing the charts. And no Gatorade ever tasted better than the ones from the Exxon convenience store on the way home.

How can I forget an impromptu Starbucks session of great conversation and good coffee drinks? I can’t remember two hours flying by that fast. It was yet another in a long line of unexpected treasures and blessings God has showered on me lately.

I remember Friday and Saturday in downtown Franklin, seeing some of my favorite McCreary’s people and savoring yet another beautiful summer night visiting my usual haunts and trekking my familiar path up and down Main Street. I especially recall how quiet it was in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as I sat silent and still and expectant, waiting on a Word from God.

I finally fell asleep at 4:30 this morning after another night of tossing and turning. I think I’ll sleep better tonight. At least I hope I do. But even that time awake gave me time to reflect on all the little gifts that eucharisteo had opened my eyes to see.

I remember something my Sunday School teacher Derek Webster said. He said, “God believes in you even more than you do.”

I have to write that down somewhere. Oh yeah, I guess I just did. But I need it in a place where I can find it and see it every morning, because I know some mornings I’ll wake up and not be as excited to be alive. Those old self-doubts will creep in. The enemy will whisper, “See? Nobody really cares about you. No one would notice if you weren’t around. You don’t make one bit of difference to anybody.”

That’s when this Truth of God comes in. God says differently. To me. To you. To anyone who heard and followed the voice of Jesus. God said you do matter because I made you. Jesus said you matter because I thought you were to die for. You have a gift and a purpose that no one else ever in the history of mankind has ever had. Only you can play the part God wrote for you in the Great Romance He’s written out in history.

You being you makes God smile. You being who God created you is what the world around you needs to see more than any Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. You coming alive to your gifts and talents will be the ripple in the ocean whose effects will last far beyond your own lifetime.

Yep. All that from four days in August.