Have you ever stopped to think?

I can’t sleep. It seems my mind is in a race for the Nobel Prize for Fictional (What if scenarios) Writing. If I’m not careful those racing thoughts lead to tight chests and more sleepless nights. so… When that happens, I come down stairs, spend time talking to God, search for Oreos,  fire up my lap top and write out the craziest of scenarios my brain can conjure until I laugh myself stupid – and then if I still can’t sleep, I go through my silly thought file.

Some silly thoughts, I thought I’d share:

  • Have you ever stopped to think…..and forgot to start again?
  • If you arrest a mime does he have the right to remain silent?
  • How do you know when it’s time to tune your bagpipes?
  • What happens when you get scared half to death a second time?
  • Why is it called lipstick if you can still move your lips?
  • If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, do the other trees make fun of it?

 

  • ‘“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
    “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
    Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.’
    -A.A. Milne

It is the Silliest Things Really.

Have you ever had days where you just feel touched by God? I don’t have them often, but when the creator of the universe wants to touch me – he does it with such flourish that I cannot help but know he see me. I’ll give you an example. I like to spend time in my gardens, watching butterflies and birds make their way. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of Oklahoma since moving here 18 years ago. The sky just goes on forever and most days I can see a hawk or an eagle if I’m lucky. The clouds are large and white and look like cotton candy just waiting for me to reach out and touch them.

I feel closest to God when I’m in my gardens. It’s there that I spend most of my time talking to him. I was having a particularly rough go at it one day and was spending a large amount of time just pouring my heart out. Feeling that I was being sucked down into a negative state of mind, I decided to start thanking him for the blessings in my life. I rattled off my family, my friends, the birds and wildlife in my yard. As I looked up to comment on the beauty of the sky I talked about how much I love the expanse, and the clouds. Except that one cloud God, that one looks like a monster’s head, I said and I shivered.

Without warning, the clouds began to shift and the monster head disappeared and became something that looked like a lamb. In a state of total shock I asked out loud, “Is that you God?” and again the clouds shifted and revealed a hand.

Show off.

I giggled for days.

When the creator of the universe wants to dazzle me, he makes it intimate, and he does it with subtle flourish. Why not? He is an artist after all.

I have times and seasons where I really do wonder if I’m doing the right thing, on the right path, or if I’m even seen. I’m really not one of those women who is content to stay behind the scenes and work unnoticed all of the time. Not that every day should be my own private Oscar celebration, but still – sometimes I need to see small snippets; some kind of reassurance that I’m heading in the right direction. Don’t we all?

If you cannot relate to that statement, please let me come check your pulse. Everyone needs those small moments of acknowledgment or thanks at least once in a while and if you don’t – well then I believe you might be lying to me or even to yourself. That or you’ve bought into the lie that not needing affirmation is a sign of strength. It isn’t. It’s a sign of self-reliance and tells me you’ve isolated yourself to such a point that your relationships are dried out. And maybe your own spirit as well. No one is an island. Whether we are capable of admitting it or not, we need each other.

I’ve been second guessing myself lately. This whole going back on stage, learning stand up and improv, auditioning for movies and plays and commercials, and interviewing agents is a scary deal. I’m not a kid anymore. I find the irony of officially joining SAG at 46 years of age both funny and frightening. I’m a mother now, shouldn’t I be doing something more respectable? I caught myself making a plan B. Well if this doesn’t work out, I could always go back to school and become a nurse.

Where does that thought come from? Is it fear? Self Reliance?  The desire or need to hang on to an assured ending?  That’s why I remembered Second City not that long ago. I did the same thing to myself when I was 22. Remember? I chose the safety of a data room and guaranteed income over my dreams. I did the same thing when Ringling Brothers came to town. I had a chance to audtion and I chickened out.

Not that I was wrong to do that, after all I met my husband that year, but still Plan B doesn’t get me where I want. Plan B is always about safety, lack of risk and is loaded with fear based choices. Plan B doesn’t come close to leading me into being the woman I always wanted to be; Fearless, strong, interdependent, and full of purpose.

I did what I’ve learned to do which is pray and ask God for direction or okay a sign maybe. I can’t tell you what he did, I’d be a little embarrassed actually if you knew. But he did something so closely tied to SC that I cannot help but know that I’m seen and yes, I’m on the right path.

You might say he moved the clouds that were distorting my vision and revealed again the endless sky of possibility.

And you guessed it, I’ve been giggling for days.

 2011 is a new year, ripe with possibility for all of us.

While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness. Gilda Radner

Let’s Talk About it: Things that Make our Hair Stand on End.

My brain, and heart have been running circles around my need to have it all planned out center since New Year’s Eve and I’m really not sure what I think about it much less how I feel. Someone created a stir in me that took a few days to settle into.  The question is simple – Can you remain a stay home wife even after the kids are gone – do comedy sure, but still be a home maker? The thought had never crossed my mind.

To be fair I’ve learned that I am also gifted at creating stirs among women. It’s easy to do, just say things like:

  • “It’s a lie to believe you must have a career outside of your home to feel fulfilled.” – (Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free. – Nancy Leigh DeMoss.) I stepped into a nest that night without meaning to.
  • “If you knew the truth about submission you’d see that submitting to your husband isn’t a curse, it’s liberating.” (Liberated Through Submission - P. Bunny Wilson) – I call this the no competition clause. He competes at work all day long, and he really doesn’t want to come home and compete with us. Now, under no circumstances does this mean if he want’s to burn the house down and claim the insurance money we blindly go along – there are limits. _ this subject is wildly misunderstood and goes far deeper than I am going to today.

And my most recent stir:

  • “I live in my husband’s house. I like the safety in that. You have to be married to a good man in order to say that, and thankfully I am. I have also learned that if you are a woman married to a good man and you still say ‘this is my house and he’s lucky to live here.’ what you are really communicating is that you are afraid to allow yourself to be fully loved.”  – Deana O’Hara

The men all clicked “like.” Several women responded to ask if I’d been drinking. And when I stated that I was working on a series of article regarding “Whose house is it anyway?”, my husband jokingly asked if I was writing fiction. I can still remember the time a friend of mine taught a women’s study at church on The Submitted Wife and the Committed Husband - That created a stir; not among the younger women but by the older. What a hoot. Still, they said the same thing I am — you must have a GOOD man in order for this to work. Without that? It’s a moot point.

There was a time when I would have laughed out loud at all of those statements myself. And that’s why I avoid writing or speaking about this kind of stuff. I’ve dated emotionally void and abusive men and it was horrible.  I don’t know what kind of man anyone is married to, and I don’t ever want to lead someone down the wrong path. Time and again, I hear stories of women married to abusers, alcoholics, addicts and who hear this type of advice and think they are called to submit to that – and no they aren’t. 

Those women aside, where does that leave the rest of us? Let’s face it – there is a reason all of these things create stirs. They get under our skin and it feels like someone is trying to take one more thing away from us. Sometimes I believe that is true. Personally, I disagree with Concordia College’s stand that a women shall not be president. Not only does it violate Ephesians 22, in its fullest context, I believe in equality in the workplace and if you are going to employ women then they should have the same career opportunities as men. That’s actually federal law – unless you are a private university, which Concordia is. They are welcome to have those rules so long as they understand that as a woman, I am welcome to spend my money elsewhere.

Mostly though I don’t believe society is out to take anything away from women even if some individuals might try.  I don’t believe that women are as historically victimized as we’d like to believe either. We’re empowered in many ways today. Ask any man who has ever tried to win an argument with us, it can’t be done.

The feminist movement did great things for women I’m not denying that. One of the things it did do is give women choices. We can choose to pursue careers and be successful, and we can choose to stay home and manage the house and family and be just as successful.

I shared with a friend on New Years that I was planning on going back to work as a nurse once my youngest graduates. She looked at me very shocked and asked “why on earth do you want to do something like that?”  I told her it was because I was bored out of my mind. Which I can be. She then went on to paint a picture that I had temporarily forgotten. I get to stay home and raise my family, play in my gardens, travel, see friends, cook real meals that aren’t hurry up and go, make a difference in the community, do stand up, and be loved. I’m blessed beyond measure when I remember that. Not a bad choice.

I was not raised to be a stay home wife. I was raised to have a career and support myself and trust no man to take care of me. Making different choices was hard and fearful. Even so, I’m glad I followed my heart. What I haven’t figured out is how to write about these things that I’ve learned without sounding pious, or smug and without being codependant and sexist because these things – when properly thought through are none of those.

So, that is where my mind has been at since New Years. Is it okay to say I live in my husband’s house and I’m happy with that for me? Can I even begin to write about this and adequately cover all of the facets involved, because there are many to consider.

I’m curious – what statements have you heard over your life time that made your hair stand up? Did you change your mind about them? Let’s Talk About it.

Putting Kindness to the Test

one day you finally knew what you had to do,

and began.

though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,

though the whole house began to tremble

and you felt the old tug at your ankles,

 “mend my life!” – each voice cried,

but you didn’t stop you knew what you had to do.

though the wind pried with its stiff finger at the very foundations,

though their melancholy was terrible,

it was already late enough and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen branches & stones.

 but little by little as you left their voices behind

the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds.

 and there was a new voice which you suddenly recognized as your own

and that kept you company as you strode deeper into the world,

determined to do the only thing you could do,

determined to save the only life you could save. – mary oliver

I love Mary Oliver, her voice is expectant and hopeful.

Where 2010 brought sickness, rest, and healing, 2011 is bringing many new things into light. I cannot mend another’s life, I can only tend to my own. Knowing that has been far more healing these past few days than I expected.

One of the things I am tending to is rather than leave you with half-finished stories and incomplete thoughts, I’ve decided to cut back on how often I post. I didn’t give you my best last year, and I’ve decided that 2011 is no year for table scraps for anyone.

A funny thing happened today while I was sitting here writing. I opened my eyes to look at the piled up things of stuff surrounding me. The Christmas tree boxes, decorations, scraps of paper, and empty boxes waiting to be filled. I’m surrounded in the chaos that comes with having two homes and not fully letting go of a holiday. Everything is in transition, either waiting to be taken to the lake house or to be put away or thrown out and I’m smack in the middle of unfinished business.

I was considering leaving it all for another day while I continue to find ways to mend that which isn’t my own and a voice whispered in my spirit – “Is this really how you treat my home?”

You would have thought my husband said that, but he didn’t. He’s kindly and gently side-stepped this now visual image of how cluttered I’ve allowed my insides to become. Most men would be apoplectic by now.  I had to stop and really think – is this how I treat someone I love? He’s even-tempered, kind to a point that I don’t always understand – and trust me when I tell you he is the nicer of the two of us. I’m putting that kindness to the test, taking it for granted when he really doesn’t deserve that.

So, having said that – I have two homes to put in order and won’t be here as often as I was. I hope you understand.

Ministering to the Victim (The first listening matters)- fixed

Sorry about yesterdays faux pas with this post - my technical knowledge hit the internet wall of doom.

Madeleine L’Engle writes – “I look back at my mother’s life and I see suffering deepening and strengthening it. In some people I have also seen it destroy. Pain is not always creative; received wrongly, it can lead to alcoholism and madness and suicide. Nevertheless, without it we do not grow.” – Walking on Water.

I’ve been pondering a question lately. Well several questions if you really must know, but one more than another these days. I’ve pondered this so much in fact, that I’ve lost sense of the original thought.

Have you ever done that. Thought about something for so long and so hard that you forgot what you were really thinking about? If not – lucky you – if so, welcome to my world.

The question began simple enough – Why is it easier for us to forgive the victim than it is to believe something less than desirable about a friend or a peer.

That question led to another

If no one believes the victim, and rather than being protected she is discounted and then forgiven, have we compounded her pain? Are we victimizing her yet again?

If we come across such a woman who has been doubly wounded - and we will if we are paying attention and really listening - how can we as women or as ministry hands, bring her back to a place of creative strength.

Pain received wrongly can lead to madness, I know because I’ve been there – fortunately for me – the trip was short-lived - I found my “gumption” as my grandmother used to call it. That get-upness that comes from either my Irish genes or remembering my heritage and hearing my grandmother’s voice in my ears telling me to get up. My grandmother had gumption coming out her ears – while she did go down from time to time, she never stayed there.

Small town living is different from our busy lives today. Back then women surrounded each other and spoke healing and truth until we got our gumption back. Today? We walk as lonely travelers more often than not. schizophrenic voices crying from street corners, desperate to be heard – every time someone walks past – deaf to the cry – the madness grows deeper.

Knowing the mirror I used to look into, I now see other faces who seem almost on the verge of madness themselves – pain received wrongly. Someone has to stop and listen.

I read blogs like Flowerdust, Randy Elrod and Carlos Whittaker, who dare ask those painful questions – where have you been wounded. You should see the responses – it’ll break your heart. They are the listeners – the stopping point. A place where madness meets grace, and healing begins.

What gives them the courage to ask? They’ve tasted the same double edge sword of being victimized, discounted and forgiven – someone listened to them.

Which circles back now to my first thought – why is it easier to forgive a victim than believe a less than desirable truth about a friend or colleague? – I don’t know – but it is. False accusations abound and we have to be discerning and sometimes we blow it, pure and simple.

And more personally – even if we do blow it from time to time – how can we as ministry leaders be listeners to another person’s truth?

For me I see three points – you may see others.

Ask: Where have you been wounded?

Listen to their answer without discounting their reality however it’s perceived.

Affirm: I’m sorry that happened to you. – this first listening is not the place to say “are you sure that happened to you?”

One of my favorite quotes from Group is “thank you for sharing, next.” – Being heard matters more than you know. Those three simple steps do more to calm the voices screaming to be heard than you can possibly imagine.

Being heard – is a wonderful step in ministering to victims.

Can we begin by asking that same question? Where have you been wounded? and then shut up and let them talk. When they are finished, can we tell them “I’m sorry that happened to you.” – Can we be an affirming voice first and foremost.  

The rest will come – the healing, finding a place to forgive, remembering to get back up – We can’t be the only person to listen to them – for some people they’ll need more help than we can give, and we can refer as needed. There is much work to be done that we cannot do on their behalf, in order for pain to be fully served – we at least however, give them a launching pad to try therr wings.

Thoughts?

Something for God To Do

My earlier post on Ministering to the Victim is experiencing technical difficulites and I’ve taken it down until I can figure out what I did wrong – I’m sorry for the confusion. In it’s stead I offer Something for God to Do. Have a great y’all.

S.F.G.T.D.
(Something For God To Do)

To: YOU
Date: TODAY
From: THE BOSS
Subject: YOURSELF
Reference: LIFE

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help.

If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours.Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now.

If you find yourself stuck in traffic; Don’t despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.

Should you have a bad day at work; Think of the man who has been out of work for years.

Should you despair over a relationship gone bad; Think of the person who has never known what it’s like to love and be loved in return.

Should you grieve the passing of another weekend; Think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.

Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance; Think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.

Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn’t live long enough to get the opportunity.

Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities; Remember, things could be worse. You could be one of them!

–Author unknown.

Say it Ain’t So Joe: CBS Defenders is Moving to Friday?

Edited to add on April 23 – my favorite new show of the season “the Defenders” has been cancelled by CBS. That stinks. I didn’t even DVR it, so now I’ll never see the episodes that I missed. It’s a sad sad day in my house.

News has it CBS is moving them from Wednesday night at 10 pm to Friday at 8 (7 Central) Seriously? crap, there goes my favorite show. That’s right CBS is moving their new hit show The Defenders (10 Million Viewers strong) to Fridays starting on February 8.

Jerry O’Connell may be optimistic about the move to Fridays, but I’m not. What are they thinking?

Yes, CBS tends to do well on Fridays – not that I would know because honestly, I don’t watch TV on Fridays. Granted that is due in large part to there is nothing good on TV on Friday nights. Besides,Friday is date night so who in heaven’s name are they trying to recruit here? My teenagers aren’t even home on Fridays.

According to the Detroit News a lot of shows are changing time slots. NBC is planning on moving Law and Order SVU to their 10 pm time slot on Wednesdays and Fox moved Human Target to the same time slot. I’m speculating that is why CBS moved my show.  SVU and Human Target are tough to compete against. So maybe – just maybe CBS knows what they are doing.

And so we have it, the Defenders will be on at 8 (7 Central) starting on February 8 and Blue Bloods (with Tom Selleck) will be on at 10 (9 Central). I’m hoping they don’t plan on keeping Medium in the middle at 9 because that will be the death of all three. Seriously, I cannot imagine viewers staying for Medium - but who knows, maybe they will.

On a positive note, Dan Aykroyd is joining the cast of The Defenders for a short stint – that reason alone is worth following the show to Fridays. I love him. I hope they survive.

On a more neurotic note:

I’ve been checking my stats and it seems my post about my Jim Belushi dream is in the lead. Great. I have ONE weird dream about Jim Belushi and make the crazy mistake of writing about it, and suddenly people from Albania, Chicago, and Canada are on that one entry, daily — uhm, is there something I should know? That one piece is getting more hits than the rest of my stuff.

Look –  I don’t know him – the closest I’ve come to knowing him or any of the other SNL guys is I sat in the parking lot of Second City for two hours back in 1987 and chickened out of auditioning – that’s it. I’m a neurotic former-coward trying to make good by refusing to chicken out of anything else today and I’m having a blast doing it.

I’ve spent the past ten years working behind the scenes of social awareness fundraisers, promoting other artists, writing and selling jokes, and MCing events. I’ve never been the headliner – I never thought of being a headliner until I met another comic six years ago and she talked me into getting over myself – and going for it.

I drive two hours each way for five-minute gigs and open mics.

I stand in line for hours at a time in cattle-call auditions.

I send in photos for commercial bids.

I talk to agents and casting directors.

I beg.

That’s just how it is. And I love it.

When it comes to Jim or anyone else from SNL, I’m just a fan – the kind of fan that would squeak, blush, and throw up if I ever met him or anyone else from the good old days of SNL . And if my track record is indicative of anything, I’d probably have a wardrobe malfunction as well.

Charlie goes back to college tomorrow. I’ve enjoyed my month off with my family and now it’s time to get back to daily life. Have a great weekend ya’ll.

Memory Verses for 2011

As some of you know, I spent 2010 in a praise and worship fast and studied liturgical worship, not because of some legal requirement, but because this was honestly the path I believed God was leading me down. Jeremiah 6:16 - Thus says the LORD:”Stand by the roads, and look,and ask for the ancient paths,where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. “

While I may be married to a Missouri Synod Lutheran – which are historically liturgical almost to the point of legalism (depending of course on who you are speaking with) - I love praise and worship and interestingly enough so does my husband. Also interesting is neither of us really like blended services. – I may or may not write more about that later, just know that my soul craves both the fullness of praise and the richness of liturgy at different times and combining the two is like – well, I don’t have a good analogy other that to say it’s like trying to fish while I water ski, if that makes sense.

And rather than go down a rabbit hole today, let me just leave it as – I needed a break. After four years of helping with our church plant – which is primarily praise and worship, teaching bible studies, pursing new career paths (comedy), and sending my oldest away to college, I entered 2010 worn out and dry as the desert. Jeff’s mom had a fatal stroke . I had a mass in my uterus that knocked me down for six months, and I started abusing diet pills trying to lose weight. 2010 was a low bottom year for me.

And yet – even in the midst of all of that I found rest. I’d been reading Joan Chittister’s book on Liturgical living and while I found her book to be dry and cumbersome to read, I did feel a certain draw in my spirit to learn more and so with the help of a local mentor/pastor – I spent 2010 studying the church year, and liturgy. I regret neither the fast, the lows, or the choices of the year – 2010 was as gloriously rich with love and grace as God had promised.

My season of fasting is over and a new season has been placed on my heart – “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” – Luke 6:21 ESV Bible

Some changes for 2011, praise and worship is back in my fold of worship opportunities as is high liturgy. I’m not sure if I’ll teach or not as I am still needing much time in the master’s hand. (I have food issues that we are working through) Last but not least, I am back memorizing verses this year, just like I did in 2009. If you would like to join me on that, please see Beth Moore’s Living Proof live page and jump in. You won’t regret it.

Have a great week you guys.

Today is Epiphany, also known as Kings Day, or the 12th day of Christmas. If you would like to know more about Epiphany, please check out the very cool link a friend of mine posted on Facebook: http://www.crivoice.org/cyepiph.html

Behold, I make all things new

2011 has already been off to a wonderful start. We began by celebrating a 50th birthday with friends on Friday and on Sunday we celebrated another friend’s 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a year of Jubilee — what a gift. Leviticus 25 proclaims the 50th year as a year of holiness and rest.

Three things jump out at me when I read this chapter of Leviticus. The Bible speaks of the Year of Jubilee as  a year of  redemption of things lost or sold because of poverty. It also speaks of kindness to others and freedom from bondage.

These are three great thoughts as we face the new year together.

Some things to think about:

1. REDEMPTION: What things, ideas, values, et all have we sold off over the years because of our own spiritual poverty? Relationships, truth/honesty, health, self-respect? How can we return to those right, meet, and salutary things this year. How can God help us restore those broken places?

2. KINDNESS: Can you think of a way to extend kindness to others this year? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a smile, a warm hello, or maybe even volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month. – what random act of kindness can you share?

3. FREEDOM: In this passage, we are talking about bond servants or slaves who are set free — is there anything holding you back from experiencing all that God has in store for you? Are there places of bondage that you need to be released from? Is there forgiveness, hurt, anger, or fears that you are hanging onto? Now would be a good time to let go of those things. Can you write out a prayer asking God help to break those chains?

Let us make this a Jubilee Year all the way around and celebrate the gifts of God.