Radner Lake and Henry David Thoreau

image When was the last time you paused and stood absolutely still and silent for one minute? When was the last time you went to a place of solitude and did nothing more than listen to the quiet? I walked my favorite trail at Radnor Lake State Park again today. Even after so many times, it still feels like I’m leaving Middle Tennessee for Middle Earth. I feel like I could be Frodo Baggins out for a hike in the Shire. image When I stood still, I could hear nature all around me. Leaves rustling, birds singing, wind humming. Even myself thinking. I think God speaks loudest to me in the quiet. When I’m still and my brain isn’t racing with 9,956 tabs open at the same time. Like He did with Elijah, God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice that won’t compete with all the noise and clamor around us. image I can hear that Voice when I’m at Radnor Lake and when I’m sitting in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church or when I’m laying in bed late at night. I confess I’m still not very good at listening. I’m still too impatient and easily distracted. If I try to be still, immediately I think of something I need to do or a note I need to write. Complete stillness is so unnatural for me. For all of us.

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I need to get out more. And by out, I mean to these quiet places with no flashing neon lights or constant noise. Sometimes I think I could be like Mr. Thoreau and find myself a Walden Pond to visit for a while. Yeah, that’d be nice.

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Maya Angelou, Twin Peaks, and Other Thursday Offerings

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I found out with the rest of the world when Maya Angelou died yesterday. I was saddened. More than than, I regretted not taking the time to know more about her. I had read one of her autobiographies a few months ago, but I honestly couldn’t say that I still remember much from that.

Her last tweet was “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

I like that. I don’t think that I listen to myself because I myself am divine, but more like I listen to myself because God dwells in me as much as He dwells out there. I’m reminded of something Ralph Waldo Emerson said: ” ‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

You can’t find quietude and stillness unless you take the time to interrupt your busyness and make space for quiet. You have to turn off the TV, turn off the radio/streaming/music device, and put down your phone. You have to be still and tune out all the distractions that the media is throwing at you from every angle. Then maybe you can hear God.

I can tell you more about Twin Peaks, an early 90’s short-lived TV series that I’ve been watching lately. It is odd and compelling. It’s got David Duchovny in drag. I think that says it all. You probably need serious drugs to understand what all goes on during each episode. At least I think so.

There were only 29 episodes in the series and I have seen 23. I think there was a sort of prequel movie that followed. Only in Hollywood would that last sentence make sense.

But yes, it is Thursday, which makes tomorrow Friday. There will never ever be a time when that is not a good thing. I always love Fridays even when I’m not working. Because Friday always leads to sleeping in on Saturday and church on Sunday. Both of those are favorites of mine.

So, RIP Maya Angelou. And Happy Friday to all of you.

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It’s A Good Feeling When . . .

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It’s a good feeling when you can finally be you– the real you– with no shame or embarrassment. That you can be a full-on goober and not care what anybody else thinks. That you can be the ultimate anti-hipster and go against all that is hip and trendy and not give a rat’s . . . tail.

It’s a good feeling when people walk out of your life and you can smile and wave goodbye and move forward. When you know the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. The people in your life are God’s blessing to you. When He removes people from your life, it’s often a bigger– though underappreciated– blessing. You never really know what He protected and saved you from when He did that.

It’s a good feeling when you’re content with who you are and realize the best things in life can’t be bought or sold or even valued. When you hear your Abba’s voice and decide that that one voice speaks more meaningfully to you than all the other voices of popularity and fame and success.

It’s a good feeling when you can finally forgive yourself for not being all things to all people, for not being perfect all the time, for being a forgiven sinner and not a first-rate saint. It really is a good feeling when you can not only hear God calling you His beloved in whom He is well pleased, but receive it and live out of it and never ever get over it.

So go live boldly. Make big mistakes and fail ridiculously. As one of my favorite quotes from a movies goes, “Have the courage to fail big and stick around and make ’em wonder why you’re still smilin’.”

And most of all, go out and love being you because not even you can love being you as much as God does.

 

Baseball After an 11-Hour Shift? Sounds Good to Me

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What does a normal person do after putting in an 11-hour shift on a Friday before a holiday weekend?
A. Go home and crash into a 48-hour coma.
B. Go eat my weight 1) chocolate and/or 2) fried foods.
C. Both A and B.

If you answered A, B, or C, you’d be wrong. I opted for
D. Drive to a Nashville Sounds game to hang out with my amazing community group.

Ok. I cheated. But then again, no one has ever accused me of being normal. I’m crazy and I go normal from time to time. It’s usually the worst 5 minutes of my day. Normal is not something I’ve ever been good at. Being unique is something I’m starting to excel at.

It was hot. And muggy. I sweated like a pig visiting a bacon factory. It was not pretty. For me or anyone within smelling distance of me.

The game was good. My team won and there was much rejoicing. Yay.

More than anything, I remember good conversations with good friends, good funnel cake (fried), and good memories made. Throw in some cold lemonade and an encouraging text or two and I call it a perfect night.

I am seeing God in the tiny details these days. And He’s everywhere. Like in the unexpectedly cool breeze on a humid day, grace from friends, the freedom to finally forgive myself for not being all things to all people, and good funnel cake. You just have to know where to look and how to see with eyes of faith.

I am still learning to live in the moment and love God there. No more dwelling on past regrets or future maybes. God is here now and I can only hear Him speaking if I am fully present in the present. Right here, right now.

Lord, I am here now hearing now. Speak, for Your servant is listening.

Joy in the Waiting

Sometimes, I have this idea that if I can just get to this stage in my life, then everything will be okay. Maybe if I get that relationship or that job, I can find that contentment.

To use a phrase that’s been way overused, it’s like I’m waiting for God to open a door so I can walk through and find joy. Then my life will be complete.

But maybe I don’t need to wait for that open door. Something I read on facebook challenged and inspired me. No, it was not about how if I don’t share a certain status, it means I hate puppies and kittens. Not that kind of post.

It said, “Until God opens the next door for you, praise Him in the hallway.”

Maybe you’re in a hallway. Neither here nor there and certainly not where you’d rather spend your time. But hallways are inevitable. Sooner or later, you end up there.

That’s where you learn to really praise God and mean it. That’s where you find joy that is different from the happiness that is dependent on your circumstances, or what happens to you.

That’s where you learn and grow the most. That’s where your faith deepens and your heart expands. That is where you will hear the voice of God most. That’s where you become the person that’s ready for whatever lies behind the door God will open for you next.

Joy is knowing that while you might not know what’s next, God does. Joy is knowing that God’s in your past redeeming it, in your present with you, and in your future waiting for you.

Joy is knowing that God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Even in the hallway.