Step up. Change the world. One lonely person at a time.

 

girl_in_rainJust in Time – Level B – Teacher Len

Something crazy happened after I got married. I got hit by a hurricane of change. In twelve months  

  • had a baby,
  • moved from Texas to Vancouver B.C.
  • left my fundamentalist Baptist community and joined a  Charismatic church. 

Perhaps, I was not as tough as a young mom should be.

  1. At 28 I had no idea what to do with a screaming little pooping machine.
  2. My hairspray- heavy, Midwest Wal-Mart heritage was no help in adjusting to a sophisticated, west coast world. 

The breaking point?

When I emerged from the cloistered confines

  • of the fundamentalist Baptist community
  • and found myself in a Charismatic church.

The lingo “of the spirit” confused me. Some of the unique expressions of worship just plain scared me. Suddenly, I felt like a stranger at church – the only community I had ever known. My extended family lived too far away to ease my loneliness. My own husband was so busy working with a struggling Bible college and serving on pastoral staff,  I sat through services alone.

How did I survive?

It wasn’t

  1. supper duper Sunday greeters,
  2. profound intervention from dynamic leadership,
  3. or special programs designed to scoop up fringe folks like me and toss them into the hustle and bustle of church life.

Not a chance.

Instead, I found hugs, encouragement and a sense of connection in unexpected places.

  • Single moms, struggling to make ends meet, invited me for coffee.
  • Young adults shared their favorite books and fashion advice.
  • Older, wiser women held the baby and included me in their extended family life.  

They were the hands, the heart, the very face of Jesus to me.

What else can I say?

This September, WATCH OUT FOR NEWBIES.

At school. On the job. In church. Look out for the confused, the socially awkward, the ones hanging back, the ones sitting alone.

Be friendly.

I’m not talking about some quick I-really-don’t-care-I’m-just-being-nice hello. I’m talking about expanding the borders of your compassion to include people who don’t quite fit in.

Step up.

Act like a Christian and change the world.

One lonely person at a time .

Bad Breath and the Bondage of Expectations

Disappointment

Expectations.

Those nasty little critters can certainly mess with emotions.

To be honest, life has not turned out like I imagined. Mind you, it’s not all bad. I’ve been blessed beyond what I ever hoped in so many areas of my life. But, sometimes I obsess on things that didn’t happen.  Once I decide the way life should be I have a hard time letting go.

Not a good mindset for working in the ministry. Things change all the time. So much is out of my control. I should know that by now.

Seriously.

My ministry blossomed early, around the age of eight. Chalk that move up to being a pastor’s kid.

After

  • sitting through hundreds of sermons,
  • observing my father comfort people through all manner of dilemmas every single week
  • and singing in front of the church with my five siblings almost every Sunday

I figured I was ready.

Funny thing is, the directive for my first spiritual mission came not from

  • a sermon,
  • a voice from heaven,
  • or even my father.

It was a commercial.

That’s right. A 60 second Television spot about a woman who agonized over her co-worker’s bad breath. Each night this woman practiced telling her co-worker about the situation.

“You have bad breath,” whispered the actress into her bedroom mirror, “use this.”

The woman pulled a bottle of mint green mouthwash from behind her back and pretended to offer it to her co-worker.

The next day the woman actually offered her co-worker a swig of Listerine. The co-worker was transformed.

Somehow this commercial jelled in my head with Dad’s weekly admonition to tell people about Jesus.

“You have bad breath,” I whispered into the mirror with the reverence of a seasoned evangelist, “Repent and use this mouthwash.”

My target? A teacher at my elementary school.

Did she have bad breath? I don’t think so.

But, hey, things get a little crazy when you try to save the world before your brain is fully developed.

Next day was show time.

“Get out a blank piece of paper,” my teacher said half way through the morning, “It’s time for your weekly spelling test.”

She read out each word slowly. Didn’t help. I couldn’t spell over half the words. So, I decided to write my “salvation” message across the top of my paper.

This is where expectations came in.

I expected the teacher to be amazed and transformed. Looking back, I now realize she was expecting to interact with a normal child that did normal things in normal ways.

We were both disappointed.

Halfway through grading the spelling tests at her desk, the teacher stood up and called my name.

“Into the hallway,” she demanded, “now.”

“What is this?” the teacher hissed after we left the classroom. She waved my spelling test in my face. I stared at the smudged proclamation that rambled across the top of my test paper. It wasn’t the gospel message after all. I guess I went with the Listerine concept without realizing it.

That didn’t even turn out.

My misguided sense of phonics turned “you have bad breath” into “you have bad birth”.

Try explaining your way out of that one. At age eight.   Let’s just say it was not a pleasant experience.

Update – my spelling skills have not improved much since then. But, I’ve been growing and learning in the area of expectations.

Basically,

  1. Disappointment is unavoidable when we demand that our future fit in the narrow confines of what we think life should be.  It’s like walking into a gelato shop and demanding a certain flavor. We walk out in a huff because that flavor is not available. We miss experiencing the new and exciting flavors that would shake up our taste buds and widen our world.
  2. Stuff happens. No matter how carefully we plan, our whole life could change when we least expect it. Some people mourn the  tiniest of changes. They never embrace the good that remains.  Other folks, rocked by deep tragedy, struggle through each and every stage of grief. Slowly, very slowly, they move forward. People with courage. We can learn a lot from them.
  3. Letting go is not easy. Releasing our expectations of where and how we dreamed we would spend our days can be hard at first. But, it’s the only way to keep from dying inside. Choose to live.
  4. A world of possibilities remain after we let go of what we never had in the first place. The emptiness the remains is actually crammed with unexplored options.  Anything can happen.

WARNING! Expectations are obnoxious stinkers.  They like to yell that

  • you blew it,
  • you lost it all,
  • you’ll never, ever have another chance to dream.

They are wrong. You have a future. It just may be different from what you planned.

Live it to the max.

Defying Gravity–how a handful of songs, great acting and a brilliant storyline blew my mind and challenged me live beyond the expectations of other people.

 

wicked 5myfirstmusicaltradesite.weebly.com

Last month I spent an entire Wednesday pushing and shoving through the teeming streets of London. Just when I thought I couldn’t take another step I stumbled into the Victoria Apollo theatre on #17 Wilton road.

Stumbled in with a ticket, of course. (I said that I couldn’t take another step –not that I became dumb as a stump.)

This was what I’d been waiting for ever since I punched  my credit card number

  • into the official website
  • back in Canada
  • months before we headed to England for my son’s wedding. 

Wicked, the musical.

Note- a few people, upon hearing the title of this musical have expressed concern for my moral scruples. Give me a break! And, don’t make me type the word “moral scruples” again. It’s not the dark ages.

Back to my ticket search.

It took hours and hours but I found the best seats in the house for the best price. On the main floor about mid way up. Worth every penny because I

  1. loved the music,
  2. loved the dancing
  3. and absolutely loved the outrageously brilliant storyline. 

wicked 4blog.lastminute.com

But, it was more than just a fantastic mumble-jumble of clever lines and legendary vocals. (Emphasis on fantastic, please.)

It was  a wake –up call.

For me.

Dare I say it was a kick in the proverbial pants for ALL of us who have tolerated nice as opposed to good far too long?

I’m talking about being nice in order to get our way rather than doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.

Not a problem?

Come on, you and I both know that it is a delicate dance to stay in the good graces of everyone around us. 

But, oh, how we try.

wicked 6

Garnering the praise of the movers and shakers of this world can even be a bit heady. I’m not just referring to the rich and powerful on planet Earth. Sometimes we ignore what is right and true just to dazzle the influential folks in our own micro-spheres-

  • Our communities, 
  • Our schools,
  • Our places of employment
  • and even our churches.

It’s addictive and even dangerous.

Once we are hooked on approval it can distort our judgment, cloud our vision and eventually drag us down into a life we were never meant to live.

Defy gravity.

Resist the temptation to please everyone. Stand against the pressure to  impress rather than express our true selves.

wicked 2janephob.blogspot.com

Sure, it’s risky business to rise above what people think you should be and dare to be who God created you to be.

People will shake their heads, criticize and some may even see you as a troublemaker, a bad influence.

But, life is not a popularity contest. It is all about destiny. It’s about living in the truth. It’s about following God, not man.

Defy gravity.

MONDAY BLOG – A Kindergarten Runaway, Emotional Misfits and the Goodness of an Unchanging God in a Constantly Changing World.

 

kinder. 2

It all started in Kindergarten.

No one asked my permission. My parents just dressed me up and sent me off to school with a box of crayons and a snack.

I hated  it.

The next day I ditched the Ittsy Bitsy Spider songs, ABC games. Easily done. I just pretended to walk to school with my sister. Half way there, I ran back home and hid behind the bushes in the backyard.

I’m sure my mother knew I was there. But, she was overwhelmed with too many kids. Maybe she just decided to wait it out.

Then, my grandpa Schaal came to visit. I know what you are thinking – a jolly old coot with candy in his pocket hobbles onto the scene with a twinkle in his eye. Funny, I remember a short determined gentleman whose German heritage shone from his eyes like forged steel. He marched me to school so fast I barely missed morning circle time. Good ole Grandpa. Heart of gold. Nerves of iron. I never hid in the back yard again.

But, I still hated school.

I hated change even more. So, I came up with a solution – keep everything the same. 

Not possible then. Not possible now.

I think it really hit me when my middle son got married in England last week. 

This journey was

  • so far out of my physical and emotional comfort zone
  • I couldn’t pull off the cool, calm and collected woman

I so wanted to be.    

Good news. Neither were my son’s in-laws the intimidating British folk I feared they would be. They graciously gave us hugs, fed us roast dinners and showed us around castles and manors and even took us to a jousting match. 

I was surprised and delighted. Sure, I was still an emotional mess. But, God was in control.

Control – that’s the heart of the matter.

We often think that we are masters of our fate.  Truth is, the hold we have on our destiny is  fragile at best.

Scary thought.

But, don’t panic.

Our times are in God’s hand.

Good to know since my life presently feels like an enormous sea of change. A major part of my “mom” job is phasing out. The kids are all in the process of establishing their own lives outside my own. All over the world.

Sometimes the changes seem so fast and furious I feel like I’ve lost all sense of time and space. 

But, God remains the same. Steady. Unmoving. Never wavering in His love for us and those who may be miles and miles away.   

No matter what distance, we are united in Him.