Saturday, February 28, 2009

Please take a moment and watch this...

This is a 12 year old Canadian girl names Lia who decided to enter her school's speech contest with this speech despite the discouragement of school officials and teachers.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--Fav quote of the week: "Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. -Ronald Reagan

--As a general rule I am not a procrastinator but I have finally admitted to myself that there are a couple of things that I just don't seem to want to do. Like move all of our medical records to a new doctor up here. I just HATE dealing with the office personnel at my former doctor's office so I have been acting like Scarlet Ohara..."I will just think about that tomorrow." But I only have one more month left on my prescription for the one medication I take and I have to go to a doctor. What is wrong with me??

--This weekend is The 30-Hour Famine, an initiative of World Vision, that will see about a half a million teenagers fast, pray and fundraise to raise awareness of world hunger. Funds raised by teens will go to Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and other nations affected by famine. To read more about it, click here.

--Through the miracle of Facebook, I have reconnected with an old college friend, Lynne Beach, with whom I shared more than a few laughs. She is deliciously sarcastic-an acquired taste to be sure, but if you have hung around here for the last year and a half or so then, must have the pallet for it. Her collection of writings are funny, endearing and nostalgic. Check out her blog here.

--And finally, I am feeling a little cranky and out of sorts. NBC has been serving up warmed over episodes of The Office and it just isn't doing it for me. Is the season over?? Is it really, really over?? Does anyone know? Hello? Somebody?


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hungry for Him

So, here we are at the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday was yesterday and I am sure many of you are fasting or have given up something for the next fortyish days or so. I have read a few things here and there about what people are giving up for Lent or if they see any merit at all in this practice and I have totally enjoyed hearing so many points of view on the subject. And because I am me, I, too, have an opinion and I thought I would share it.

I fast at different times throughout the year as a discipline because Jesus didn't say in his teachings, "IF you fast", but rather, "WHEN you fast". (Matt 6:16) I am not trying to sound all holy here...I hate fasting food and I have to make myself do it. But when I do, it brings a lot of junk to the surface of my life and then He can deal with me about those things. I think of it more like choosing to sit on the front row in a classroom. I am positioning myself to better hear His voice. So then when I crave food (pretty much all the time), I can immediately shift my focus to Him rather than fulfilling a fleshly urge. It is my understanding that the original intent for fasting food for Lent was because food preparation back then was very time-consuming so the idea was to devote that time to feeding your soul rather than your flesh. Again, positioning yourself to hear His voice. I don't believe it can ever be viewed as sacrifice, for what "sacrifice" could we ever give that compares with His great sacrifice. And He tells us in scripture that He does not want our sacrifices...He wants US. (Hos 6:6) No, it is about nearness to Him. It should always come back to nearness to Him.

My friends, if you are fasting for Lent or not, I hope and pray that you will consider making the discipline of fasting a part of your love life with God that happens more than once a year. Put yourself on the front row as often as possible and drink it in.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Are You For Real?

I have been thinking about the one overriding quality that draws me to certain people, to certain blogs, to certain leaders or even churches. It would definitely have to be authenticity.

If something is authentic it is free from misrepresentation.

It is genuine.

It is real.

Things that are authentic usually are of great value because they are rare or because they bear their maker's name.

All people are valuable. Authentic people are valuable and rare and their Maker's Name is easy to see because pretense does not overshadow the work of art itself.

God, help me to be authentic. And genuine. And real. So that Your Name will be written on everything I do. And say. And touch
. And so that Your Name would not be misrepresented by my life. Amen

Is this your prayer, too?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Abundance or Scarcity...Which Do You See?

I saw in the news this past week that another bank went under. Everywhere you look the media of our nation are placing the blackest of clouds to overshadow our landscape. And if I were to adopt the attitude that the mainstream media is propagating I would be in the midst of a downward mental spiral, as so many Americans actually are right now. The 'chicken littles' are squawking all around us and most people have run indoors to avoid the chunks of sky that must inevitably be headed their way.

I know I have touched on this before, but I cannot get over how quickly we Americans swallow the doom and gloom reports and embrace a scarcity mindset. Tim Sanders wrote about this in his blog yesterday and it was an excellent post on resisting such a mindset. As Christians, we have even more reason to embrace an abundance mindset. The Scriptures are full of His promises to His people of His great provision. Yes, we need to be wise as serpents but we need not ever cross over into being as scared as chickens. And I am not living in some insulated bubble of money that makes me blind to what is true about the state of our economy. We are feeling deeply the real effects of a real recession in our own home. But I am not willing to stop living and believing and enjoying my life. We all learned in economics class that an economy is cyclical...what goes around really does come around. The roller coaster has taken many of us into a low curve but rest assured, that coaster will head back up again and the key is choosing to enjoy the whole ride with an eye towards abundance and not scarcity.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Arriving Is A Wonder

Most pictures of Jesus that I have ever seen are pretty cheesy. But I really like this one. It is exactly where I am living right now. If there could be a drawing before this one, it would show the child on the floor at Jesus' feet, kicking and screaming and throwing a giant hissy fit. That would be exactly where I was living up until recently.

I heard someone say that a Christian should "nestle, not wrestle and snuggle, not struggle." I really like that, too. When you can cuddle up into the purpose and plan of God for your life, it is a great relief. Just like after a good cry, when your lungs are still heaving and your breathing is uneven, there is a sense of peaceful relief that settles over a surrendered will. Getting there may be a struggle, but arriving is a wonder.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Little Flirtation for Your Saturday


Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--I saw two shocking sights in traffic this past week. One was a nun dressed in full habit and the other was a bearded man smoking two cigarettes at the same time. They were not together. Even as I write this, it sounds like I live at the circus...

--I am pretty sure I am suffering some short-term memory loss. I keep forgetting that we burned some frozen pizzas beyond recognition recently (yeah, I'm thinking of writing a cookbook). I forget, that is, until the oven is preheating again and the noxious smell of charred pizza cheese wafts out from the bottom of my badly neglected oven. Why can't I remember this??

--I'm sorry, what was I saying?

--Kem Meyer (communications director @ Granger Community Church) posted this video on her blog this past Monday....really good. If you think you might be the least bit spoiled or ungrateful, check it out.

--You have to question your parenting skills, as I did this week, when one of your sons begins a story with, "I remember the first time I licked a battery..." Who does that more than once???

--Fav quote of the week: "Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much." -Oscar Wilde

--I read this week that the Arkansas Senate will be voting soon on a bill that would allow churches to decide if their congregants can bring weapons to church with them. A Little Rock pastor stated that he " believes it would disturb the sanctity and tranquility of church.” You think? Personally, I feel that nothing brings the peace that passes all understanding like a deacon packing an uzi.

--And finally, here is a link to a fun page I found. This will come in handy if you have elementary school age children or if you are feeling a little full of yourself and need to be brought down a notch. I don't like to brag, but I did make an 86%. I may not be smarter than a fifth grader but I could totally kick some butt in a kindergarten!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Audacious Intimacy

I have been thinking again of brokenness and how vitally important it is in the life of a leader. It is important for anyone, but to be in a place of leadership, unbroken, is to be a walking time bomb, capable of wounding the vast audience of innocent onlookers in your life. In a past post I wrote about breaking a horse, but recently I have been thinking of a breaking of another kind.

My favorite passage of Scripture to teach is the story of Mary of Bethany (Mark 14, Luke 11). Now there is the greatest of unlikely Biblical heroes. I love this story of a broken vessel. There was the vessel of costly perfume, a years wages it cost, that she broke over her Master's feet and then wiped them with her own hair. But there is the picture of another broken vessel...Mary herself. Only her brokenness would have enabled her to even approach Him, much less touch Him, for what we so often overlook in this story is the fact that men, and especially rabbis in that period in time did not even look at a woman, let alone stoop to speak with her or teach her. But this Man was different. This man looked at her, talked to her, listened to her, touched her. He understood her. And she understood Him unlike any of the men in His company of followers. They called it waste, but she understood His worth. She knew that the broken vessel represented His broken body. And the oil, the preparation for His burial. She understood and knew what was coming. Her acceptance of His impending death was her great sacrifice, not the jar of oil. She had paid attention to every syllable of His teaching. And the truth of it not only moved her, it owned her.
And He was, I believe, moved by her companions. Who were these companions? Need. Poverty of spirit. Divine longing. And brokenness. And as a result, she knew an audacious intimacy with Jesus that no man there thought she deserved. And the truth is she did not deserve it, but the great disqualifier was not her obvious femininity but rather her sinful humanity. The inconceivable reality is that we can all know this audacious intimacy and the pathway is brokenness.

Who are your companions? Who are mine? Pride? Independence? Self-satisfaction? Ego? Our closest companions as leaders must be those that surrounded Mary; need, poverty of spirit, divine longing and brokenness. They will usher us into an intimacy with God that only a broken vessel can know. As leaders, that should be our greatest goal.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Have You Ever Wondered?

Have you ever wondered, if all of your roles were stripped away, who you would be? Much of our sense of identity becomes wrapped up in web-like fashion in the different shoes that we fill, the hats that we wear and when those become so numerous that we can no longer wear any of them well, then we are even less sure of who we really are. The work that we do and the people we love can be some of the greatest pleasures we can know in this life, but if we were to take all of that away, what remains is a truer picture of who we are.

It all goes back to why we are here to begin with. God wasn't lonely, He simply chose to create a "someone" who could choose to love Him and be loved in return. Hosea 6:6 says, "I don't want your sacrifices; I want your love. I don't want your offerings; I want you to know Me." (Living Bible...I know, don't stone me) At the end of the day, when the hats and shoes come off, we are stripped down to what remains in our depths. Most are not in tune with that place within and so it is easy to miss, or we shut if off because the pains and cares of this world drown out the still, small Voice that beckons us inward. In that inward oasis we can simply be His son or His daughter and know Him and love Him, thus fulfilling the sum total of why we exist. To know and be known, to love and be loved by the only One who can ever know us, love us, fill us. And it is only when we are Divinely known...loved...filled that we are able to wear the hats and shoes of this life is such a way that we leave a grand legacy of His design long after we are gone.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Soul Speak

You and I are innately designed to create. All of the beauty that surrounds us, but that we often take for granted was made by the God of the universe who also must create because it is His very nature to do so. And because we are His very image, it is also our nature to create. I have always had a personal theory that the people who are the most frustrated with their lives are so because they are not creating. Creativity comes in a million different packages and when the creative gifts we have been given remain unopened we can be nothing but frustrated and miserable because we are living in opposition to our very nature.

For years I shelved my own gift because I let myself believe there was no room for it in my life. Part of me felt dead and I found myself resenting what I had to do because I let it crowd out what I desired to do. A friend of mine a few years back challenged me to make room in my life for my writing and then guard it. She said that if I would set aside even a small amount of time to begin with, it would make all the difference. And so it has. And I have found myself again. Sue Monk Kidd says that creativity is "a conversation between my soul and me." The heartache comes when you and your soul are not on speaking terms. Have you heard from your soul lately? It is speaking to you if you will make time to listen. And if you are not intentional about it, it will never happen. Go ahead. Get reacquainted. It could very well change the course of your life.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Waiting for God

"The years teach much which the days never know." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do not like to wait for God. This is probably why I spend so much time doing just that...He knows how I feel about it. Not that He is punishing me, He just seems to push me in all the directions which I resist.

For some odd reason the phrase "waiting for God" often reminds me of that Samuel Beckett play, "Waiting for Godot". It has been said that much Christian symbolism can be found in this work but Beckett categorically denied any symbolism at all in his play. I never cared much for the play because Godot never shows up where the two tramps are waiting for him. It is a terrible thing to not show up. If you have ever had a principal character on the stage of your life fail to show up, you know what a crushing blow it can be. The problem is when I then interpret God's timing (which is not at all like my timing) as failure to show up. But He must show up. He promised to "never leave us or forsake us" (Deut 31:6, 8) and He never lies. He is unlike any "character" in our earthly existence. He makes good on His promises. But why does my heart struggle at times to remember this fundamental truth? Because it is the essence of fallen man to doubt God and expect Him to, in turn, misunderstand and punish us. As it was for the first man and woman, so it will be for us. And so we must fight this temptation for the duration of our time here. To run into Him and wait or choose for yourself and then run away. Adam and Eve's choice. My choice. Your choice.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Entertainment


Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--I think I know where the moral decline of America began. Have you ever gone back and watched an episode of Tom & Jerry? In just one episode this week (an episode that aired originally when I was like eight) I saw Tom make and then drink martinis, smoke a cigar and then try to molest a female cat. An animated den of iniquity, I'm telling ya!

--My youngest son, when asked at breakfast one morning this week what he wants to be when he grows up, announced that he plans on being an underwear model. And so I must ask myself, "Where did I go wrong??"

--I have decided that the economy has affected my family more than I care to admit. This weekend (Valentine's weekend, mind you) while ALL of my children are out of town, we decided to have our accountant (a very good friend) come and stay with us so that we can get our taxes done. Apparently we need the refund check more than we need a romantic weekend alone. This is very sad.

--I have decided to confess that, in a fit of anger, I tore one of the drawers out of my beautiful desk that I love. The drawer was stuck and I needed my earbuds out of it and, because I am utterly frustrated about a number of things in my life, I launched a full scale attack, thus tearing off the entire front. A proud moment for me since my children were all home at the time and could here the commotion coming from my room. I thank God for Gorilla glue.

--Fav quote of the week: "The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want." -Ben Stein

--To further illustrate to you how gifted my family is, four out of five Taylors locked themselves out of the house this week. At the same time. I came home with groceries and an undetermined member of the family locked the door as they came out to help unload, leaving us all locked out. With a car full of groceries. In the rain. Ah, yes, geniuses all. To our credit, we didn't panic and after I was able to stop laughing and form actual words, I discovered my cell phone in my pocket so I could call my husband. He just shook his head at the wonder that we are. You may now do the same.
And have a lovely weekend!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

You Can Find Me at the End of It

I sat down last night to write my blog and I was totally unable to do it. My mind is so full of a thousand distractions and unanswered questions and what I really wanted to do was launch a full-on cyber rant with the hopes that I would feel better afterward. I opted for plan B and just unloaded in my journal. Oh, if those pages could talk. So this morning I have a crushing headache that my early morning exercise did not take away. The over-sized cup of tea didn't do it either. I said all of this to say that, people, I am at the end of it. I don't really know what "it" is, but I am so there. At the end. And that is all I have to say today. I will be back tomorrow with my jumble of thoughts and hopefully a head that doesn't hurt. I am overdue for a post on women so maybe next week I can pull that off. Hmmm. I guess this turned out to be a mini rant. Thanks for playing along!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Am I The Only One?

It can be so hard to trust.

I like to think that I am always smiling on the swing, but I am not.

Sometimes I am kicking and screaming.

Children trust so easily.

Why is it that the trust seems to "grow out of you" and you have to work to get back to that place of childlike faith?

Am I the only one?


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nights of the Round Table

Last night we called yet another family meeting. In our home, when things aren't clicking along the way they should, we sit down together, we look each other in the eyes and we talk. True, meaningful communication rarely happens by accident and we have tried to be intentional in our family about fostering openness and honesty. It goes without saying that, because we have three sons (two of them teenagers), our family meetings sometimes get, well, silly. But for the most part we are able to deal with hurtful behaviors and attitudes that sometimes creep in and threaten our peace. Our ground rules are simple: complete honesty, absolute respect, and what is said in the family meeting, stays in the family meeting. Each person can express what they think and how they feel and then we deal with it...nothing is minimized or swept under the rug. And the best thing is that usually, when the tough issues are dealt with, we end up laughing or talking about other things that we might not have talked about otherwise. And each of us leaves knowing that, even if no one else on the planet cares what we think or how we feel, there are four other people who do. And we will always work to keep that.

Adults who are capable of healthy communication do not grow on trees. They are best grown around your kitchen table. If you have never led your family into this type of interaction, why not start now? If you and your spouse do not have this type of open communication, then you will need to start there. You cannot lead your children where you have never been. It's not too late. It is never too late to unlock the hearts of your spouse and your children and let them know that you are listening.


Monday, February 9, 2009

A Leadership Lesson from a Chef

I was recently pondering the importance of rest in the life of, well anyone, but especially those who lead. Whether you run a business or lead a ministry, an essential to longevity is rest. I was searching the internet using the phrase "the importance of rest" and the top results were from the world of cooking. The importance of resting a pork roast. Not exactly what I was looking for. But I did a little reading on the subject and it was surprisingly enlightening. No, really.

The reason it is important to allow any meat to rest after exposure to the heat of the cooking process is to allow for the redistribution of the juices. During exposure to the intense heat, the juices of the meat gravitate to the center of the meat for preservation purposes and it is caused by the tensing of the muscle fibers. But if you remove the meat from the intense heat and allow it to rest, the muscle fibers relax, thus allowing the juices to flow evenly throughout, rendering a more tender and evenly prepared finished product.

If only we humans could grasp this truth. We spend so much time in the intense heat of leadership, be it running a business, leading a ministry, or really any sort of leadership. And so many leaders find it difficult to pull away from the heat and just rest. Some will even applaud your efforts if you constantly work and resist "idle resting when there is more to be done." This is especially true in church leadership. You work for dare you lie down on the job. Well, God did. He took an entire day and rested from His labors and, while we all know that is true (everyone is familiar with the creation story!), few of us choose to live this way.

And that is why so few people are tender and completely even through and through. We become callous and proud of our accomplishments when the whole of our bodies and, more particularly, our souls are crying out for release. To be tough and rigid often indicates the self-preservation that takes place in the heat of life. But to rest is to become tender and even, offering God the opportunity to have His way with us and actually giving us a more pleasing presentation to others. Others who are hungry and needy. And who are learning from the example we are setting.

What example are you setting? When do you truly rest? Do you separate yourself from your work environment and allow time for your mind to be occupied with things that will tenderize you and "even you out"? Make time regularly to escape the heat and the pressure. Just rest.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little

If you have been here before then you are aware of my warped, yet endearing sense of humor. Check this out if you have a sec and if you don't then just click on out of here and I promise I will not be offended. Oh, and you are not seeing double- it posted twice-oops-and I could not for the life of me figure out how to get rid of one of them. Happy weekend!


Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--On the coldest night this week I sat by the fire and watched "Secondhand Lions" for like the twelfth time. Robert Duvall and Michael Cain crack me up. Never have two cranky, old men been so endearing.

--Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have learned more than I need to know about one of my new neighbors. Someone near us has named their wireless network "sexmethreeways" and I just have to ask WHY??? Why not just put a sign in the yard that says Extreme Pervies Live Here? Very classy, indeed.

--Fav quote of the week: "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." --Arthur Schopenhauer

--I have been totally loving Facebook this week because I have found, or been found by, so many people I went to school with...I mean all the way back to third grade. You just have to love technology.

--Last night I rode with my husband to Publix to get sinus medicine and Gatorade for me because I feel yucky, like maybe someone filled my sinus cavities with plaster of paris while I slept the night before. However I was wearing my very old and very comfy green plaid pajamas that I had been wearing all day and a pair of ugly running shoes that I wear only to take the dog out. Oh, yes, I was looking very hot . So, I was sitting in the van reading a book while he was in the store and then I started having those crazy thoughts. You know the ones. "What if my husband has some sort of attack and I have to go in the store dressed like a homeless person with incredibly bad taste???" "I haven't even brushed my hair today and I'm not wearing a supportive bra!" I was so relieved when he got back to the car. It was a very stressful trip to Publix!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Little Something Practical

I have always been a big fan of simplicity. Less is more. It works for me and, honestly, I think it would work for anyone who would make the effort to streamline areas of their life. Once the initial streamlining is done then it is easy to live simply. Case in point... your inbox. Even if you are not willing to admit it, clutter is stress-inducing and the clutter in your inbox can become a big stressor. First of all, if you are going to maintain an e-mail address then you should be prompt with your responses to others. Very unprofessional to drag your feet with correspondence. The times when I have been horribly slow responding to others is when my inbox is out of control. Tim Sanders recommends (here) having your own inbox handicap and keeping the number of e-mails in it at or below that number. My handicap is 20 and when it gets over that, I take a few minutes to answer, delete or file what is in there. Very simple, really. Give it a try and see if it doesn't destress an area of your life.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Indefinable Space

This is how I feel right now. As if I am in that indefinable space up above where I normally live. Grounded and predictable is down below and I look at it longingly, hoping I will be caught once gravity finally has it's way with me. You might find this breathtaking and exhilarating. I just want to not throw up on anyone's head. Ever feel this way???


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lend Me Your Ear

I was out on a date this past weekend with my husband. We went to Outback Steakhouse for two reasons: my husband's love affair with all things beefy, and we had a gift card. You just can't argue with free. As we were sitting there waiting on our food to come, I was thinking about all of the sounds that were bombarding my ears. Televisions were playing ESPN, music was playing loudly, people were talking and laughing, and cell phones were ringing. And then I thought about what mealtime must have looked like one hundred years ago. The clink of silverware on china, polite conversation....hmmmm.....that's it. What a noisy, busy, overstimulating world we live in.

A favorite author of mine, Sue Monk Kidd, has invested considerable amounts of time reading contemplative literature and making regular monastic retreats. She speaks about the "monk" who lives within herself who "craves the depths of solitude and silence". I get that. My soul cries out for solitude and introspection and time for observation of all things commonplace and ordinary that, when carefully inspected, reveal the glory and magnificence of a creative God. However we live in a point in time that is punctuated by potentially unending, mind-numbing stimuli. Television, internet, ipods, cell phones, music piped in to every store and restaurant and now there are iphones that enable us to have all of these things in one handy, distracting little device. I find no fault with these wonderous technological advances, I just think that we have to work that much harder at practicing the discipline of solitude which is as essiential to the well-being of the soul as water is to the body. And so many people grab hold of these distractions as a way to avoid facing the emaciation of their hearts and souls. A steady stream of noise drowns out the cry within for something significant, something substantial, something.... missing.
Be sure you are making time to hear. You will find that there is a roar deep inside if you will just put the shell up to your ear.


Monday, February 2, 2009

You Have the Right to Remain Silent...

I recently read where celebrated scientist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein was invited to a dinner party given in his honor by the president of Swarthmore College. When he was asked to give a speech, he stood and greeted the people and then said this: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry but I have nothing to say. In case I do have something to say, I'll come back." After six months Einstein contacted the president of the college and informed him that he now had something to say so another dinner was arranged and he gave a speech.

I was asked to speak at a conference recently and, when it got down to it, I had nothing to say so I quietly backed out and someone else filled my spot. I had never done that before....I really do take my speaking opportunities quite seriously. I once spoke to three hundred people with no notes, but I had something to say, something burning in my heart. This time it was different. And I could see no reason to waste the time of so many people when I had nothing to say.

I have often wondered what life would be like if people (and specifically me) only spoke when they had something to say. Ministers of the Gospel would do well to check with God and make sure there is something to say before speaking on His behalf . All of us would do well to slow down and think before opening our mouths. There is an old saying: "If you cannot improve the silence, do not speak."