moonflower2cove

Small Steps: Learning Trust, Name that Him.


T-Shirt by Ken Davis (Click to see more)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. – CS Lewis

Sounds like a horrible way to live, doesn’t it? Sure a heart locked up in a casket can’t be broken, but it can’t breathe either. It dies.

I love the t-shirt in the photo here. I actually own one. I first saw this shirt when I saw the Ken Davis video “Super Sheep.” at a woman’s retreat back in the 90’s. – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13) We’re the sheep in the photo and if you notice he’s holding Christ’s hand – or Christ is holding his, either way – it’s a union.  And there they go safely, fearlessly walking past the wolves and the lions of life. Wow what a visual. I have to confess I wore that shirt long before I ever believed it or even fully understood it.

I have walked through many doors with various him’s on my arm, but they were never the right one. Getting from there to here hasn’t always been easy.

My heart was wrapped rather tightly by the time I set a tentative foot into the life of churchdom back in 1993. Entombed in my career and my family it seemed to me that I was impenetrable.

 The only “him” I was with, was me and my career. 

I kinda thought that I liked it that way, but I didn’t really. Trusting only in yourself is a lonely existence.

My early years of church life became an archeological expedition of finding entrances, caskets, trinkets and pockets of light. The dig went slowly.

I can remember the first steps of simply coming to church and sitting in the pews, shaking violently. If my husband overslept and I had to go it alone, I was a basket case.

My husband became my him. I placed all burdens of peace, happiness, and safety on his shoulders.

As time went on, I can remember learning how to talk to people, going to bible studies, joining a committee (just one) and starting to feel peace. If I’m being honest, I trusted the building before I ever trusted the people.

And so the church became my him. (At least I was getting closer.)

There were nights when my husband and I would argue and I would put on my sneakers and run the 1 1/2 miles to our new church. The building was locked up and closed for the night, but I didn’t care. I’d just run through the parking lot, past the parsonage to the playground in the back. Breathless, I’d climb up the slide, sit in the tower and look at the church. I believed God was in that building and I felt safe. I’d stay there until the fear and loneliness subsided and peace settled in and then I’d walk home, leaving my him behind.

I hadn’t yet learned that God is present in more places than just a sanctuary, but it was a start. A beginning of airing out the dusty tombs.

Three years after we joined our church, we enrolled our children in a private Lutheran school. New challenges awaited and I was now dealing with several pastors instead of just my one. Their kids went there too. I hadn’t planned on that. It was time to learn a new level of trust.

Have I ever told you that I don’t like pastors? I liked mine, but taken as a whole, I wasn’t all that sure about the rest. This was going to prove problematic. More shaking. More fear. More dust.

I tested the waters many times by asking these men simple questions and then stepping back to see how they responded. Were they kind? Were they patient? Did they answer my question? Mostly yes. I dusted a windowsill and more light came through.

I did have some problems with a dad at the school who liked to pursue me when he saw me alone. I hate being hit on and I did not know how to handle it. I discovered that if I stuck close to the pastors, he’d leave me alone. I didn’t think about how it looked, I just wanted to be safe. And so

The pastor’s became my him. I was safe when I was with them.

I wasn’t intentionally making idols out of things or people. I can only relate it to going from water wings to the high dive in learning trust and walking with God.  I’d learned about Philippians by then – I can do all things through Christ. Christ was supposed to be my him. Not me, my career, my husband, my church, or the pastors. While I knew that in my head, I didn’t know how to walk it out.

Until….

We were at a back to school pool party and I was afraid. There were dozens of people there and I knew very few of them. I was by then good at saying hello, asking a brief how are you and then bolting before I got dragged into a conversation. But this was a FOUR hour, fenced in pool party. I was trapped with a bunch of Christians and pastors. eek! I didn’t think I’d survive.

I’d prayed shortly after we got there that I didn’t know to trust him enough to find the strength to step out and be myself. Would he be there for me? What would it look like? How would I know.

Right after saying that prayer, I felt a voice deep in my heart that said “watch me.”

I looked around to see who might have said that and I spotted a couple arguing not too far from me. I wasn’t sure what the argument was about, but it looked intense. I didn’t want to stare, so I looked away.

Moments later she was gone and he was standing along the back of fence. His hands were grasping the bar at the top so tightly I could see the veins in his hands. His head was bowed. He was hurting and it showed. And he was praying.

I was confused and asked God what it was exactly he wanted me to see. Surely not this. I mean this was horrible. The next thing I know this man – the praying one – is in the kiddie pool with my kids playing and laughing and talking to us. He spent the rest of that afternoon talking to people, playing with the kids, calling swim races, going off the high dive and just having a blast with everyone.

Did his pain suddenly go away? – I later learned no. His wife had left him just a few months before. His pain was deep. But what God did do for him is lift him above it enough and strengthen him enough to make the best of the day.  He prayed in the midst of pain and fear and God responded.

They walked through that day together.

When God said “watch me” — he meant watch what I can do when you let me be your him. Take my hand – I won’t let go.

Does that mean I’ll never be hurt, or have my heart-broken? Or be afraid? No. It does mean however that I have a hand to hold that will lift me above those circumstances and strengthen me as we walk through them together. I don’t have to keep my heart buried in some tomb. It is redeemable. And it’s stronger than I think.

Christ in me (and you.) – the hope of glory.

The post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. No goods or services were given in exchange for the videos and items discussed here.

Video of the Week: Anita Renfroe, Sleepless

If you came here looking for Anita’s newest video – In Tha Muthahood – please CLICK HERE. Thanks.

I got to spend a good part of yesterday bantering with several comics. What makes that kind of thing fun for me is it gets my creative juices flowing and it makes me stretch my abilities. I’m a story-teller. I’m very comfortable in that venue. Where I really need or want to grow though is in the 1,2 punch of straight stand up. Yesterday, I got to practice that by brainstorming with a few 1,2 punch stand up comics. I loved every minute of it.

One of the goals I’ve always had in this blog is to share resources and friends. Starting this week I’m going to keep my eye out for clips that I hope you guys will enjoy.

This clip by Anita is part of a series of bits she’s presently doing for Kraft Foods. While I’ve met Anita, we’re not friends. I always want to clarify that. Some of the clips I’ll show you are of friends, but most are not. Even so, I’ve really enjoyed watching her grow over the past several years in her talent, her confidence, and her humor. Seeing her challenge herself, step out on faith, and grow actually gives me hope that I can do the same.

And as always no goods or services are ever exchanged for these posts / personal endorsements. I’m just sharing things that I like in hopes that you will as well.

Enjoy.

Oh for the Love of Pete: Nicknames

Lt. John Dunbar (played by the yummy Kevin Costner) is dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. He requests a position on the western frontier, but finds it deserted. He soon finds out he is not alone, but meets a wolf he dubs “Two-socks” and a curious Indian tribe. (source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099348/plotsummary)

The Sioux Indians watch him from a distance and give him the nickname “Dances with Wolves.”

That’s the kind of name that can stick with you. Kinda like the time when I was newly married and wanted to plant a vegetable garden. We dug out the area in our back yard, went to the garden store and purchased what I thought was a flat of tomatoes. I was partially correct. There was one tomato plant in an entire flat of star flowers.I never did live that down and from that summer on, my new neighbors knew me as “Farmer Deana.”

I’ve had other nicknames in my life. My grandfather used to call me “pumpkin” and in college I was known as “meep meep” or road runner.  My boys have even had their share of nicknames from Chuckles to Dill Pickle. Nicknames can be a term of endearment and they can be a reminder of our less than graceful moments in life. My husband had a friend in high school whose girlfriend called him “snoogie-bear” in front of everyone. To this day I do not know the mans real name, they just call him Snoogie.

Which brings me to a very delicate issue.

We have a new home in a cove on Lake Hudson. We are the newest and youngest couple there and we have a beaver living under our dock. My neighbors told me to buy a 22 and just shoot the thing myself.

I’m going to be totally honest, while I’m sure I’m more than capable of hunting and killing this rodent – the only reason this beaver is still alive is because I’m surrounded by rednecks and I’m afraid of the nickname. I’m not intentionally trying to be crude here, but there really is no polite way around this – I really do not wish to spend the next 40 odd years of my life being known as The Beaver Shooter  because let’s face it, that’s the kind of name that can stick with a person, you know?

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To Make It Real

In order to better see where I’m going, I find it helpful to remember where I’ve been. January has been such a month of remembering for me. I’m always in awe at God’s merciful grace during a rather graceless season in my life; a season where I came THIS close to throwing it all in and calling it a day. -

I can remember feeling hopelessly alone and forsaken of God. I felt disillusioned, disgusted, and disappointed in everything – only to find out that my hope had been placed not on the one who tore the curtain (Matthew 27:51), but rather the ones who hide behind them. I had learned far too much, far to quickly and as disheartened as I was by that, I was even more heartbroken to realize that I myself am no better. I looked great on the outside, but inside hid the bones of dead men.

The bones were those of the church. They belonged to the men (pastors) who would not let me join their churches when I was a child. It was in their denial of my requests that I built my walls of protection and sought to prove them wrong. In my anger and hurt, I’d built an altar in my heart to their approval. Every time the bones screamed out for attention and healing, I poured on a salve of sweetness and honey hoping to silence them.

Those bones rattled with a deafening noise that manifested itself in physical shaking and panic attacks. I suffered for years with pastor-phobia – especially if they were dressed all in black. As time went on, rather than face the bones and seek God’s healing hand, I found myself becoming disgusted by the very men I was terrified of and yet I continued on with my painted on smile and false kindness. I erroneously believed that it was these men that held the life blood of my salvation and when discovering that those that had disapproved of me all those years ago, lived no better lives than I, the holes in my heart filled with rage and the bones began to shake.

I had become a liar. You can’t really love or serve people you are afraid of, no matter how hard you try. I wanted to believe I was a nice person, full of mercy, love, kindness and grace but I had grown to hate the very people I felt called to serve. The paradox was killing me. The day finally came when I could not contain my pent-up rage and rather than be honest in it, I blew up on a sweet bystander.

It was then that I knew that I needed help.

Up until that point, I thought my motives to be pure and of God. I was a little off on that perception. It was really heartbreaking for me to discover that I hadn’t jumped into ministry to serve God, I’d gotten into ministry out of my own selfish need. I needed to belong. I needed to prove “them” wrong. To me, the little girl no church would allow to join, being a paid staff member in a church was like winning the lottery. I’m in! — Take that you hypocrites.

Never once did it occur to me that this was an issue of my heart and never theirs. Live as they may, rightfully or wrongfully; full of Grace or full of bones themselves, they are neither my problem nor my cure.

God silenced me for two years after I blew up in that church office. In that silence, he gave me music. In that music he taught me how to pray. In those two years he also gave me new friends, and a new hope in Him. A hope that doesn’t rely on anyones approval but his.

While I am no longer a paid church worker, I am today pursuing His will for my life and his heart in my soul. Once I opened the door to my internal tombs for his healing touch, I’ve found that he’s opened doors I never dreamed possible.

I’ve held several funerals for those bones over the years, and I’m sure there will be more. In the meantime, I’d like to share one of the people and the songs that pulled me through. — While my breakdown occurred in 2004, I actually had discovered The Gaithers back in the 90’s and fell in love with Mark Lowry. I’ve never met him and yet when the time was right – God used his voice (among many others) to speak to my heart.

This particular song was actually written by one of Bill Gaither’s daughter’s. It say’s a lot. Enjoy.

“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things done in your name. I know the tricks behind the magic show.  I’ve almost thrown the towel in a time or two and walked away from everything I know….”

To Know More Than I should

It is said that too much curiosity killed the cat.

That in search for truth,

perhaps we cannot handle it.

perhaps we were never created to.

I used to think it a blessing

to be in

rather than out.

If I knew

touched

tasted

digested

it all

I’d be full.

Full of answers

Full of knowing

Full of life.

Full of certainty.

And I am full.

But not of the right stuff.

I’m full to the brim

with the sad reality that lies are lies

Hype is hype

and all is not as it appears.

You can’t undo a knowing either.

It’s like giving your virginity to your boyfriend

in the back seat of his car in a moment of passion

only to want it back tomorrow.

It simply is impossible.

The wizard was right you know.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

He’ll fail you every time.

Come on Toto

This isn’t Kansas

I’m not Dorothy

and not everything is meant for our knowing.

Save some magic for tomorrow.

And Leave the curtain be.

 Written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. All Rights Reserved. 2/10/11

Sometimes it’s just not funny.

Have you ever been through one of those times where things just don’t seem funny? You know what I mean. The normal things that used to make you laugh just make you raise an eyebrow instead. I’m kind of in that mood. It’s not hormones (got that fixed last year) I’ve just been in this funk for a couple of weeks now and I’m not sure how to pull out.

Please don’t go sending me your left over Prozac, I’m not depressed. A little snow blind maybe, but nothing more.

I was giddy just a few weeks ago. I mean I hired Taylor Mason to perform at our church. Jim Belushi told me to add him on my Facebook (Holy Cannolis Batman, Jim Belushi knows who I am — ) and I’ve lost 13 pounds. I should be stinking ecstatic. And those are all really cool wonderful things — and I am happy about them.

What I haven’t figured out though is how to handle the unhappiness that surrounds us. One friend is having painful family issues, a friend has a child who is sick, others (plural) are going through divorce friends unfairly fired, another friend fell pretty painfully, and now I’ve learned about someone dealing with aggressive breast cancer and my poor heart just couldn’t take it anymore. Her’s was the last bad news I could stand before bursting into tears – on the spot- in church in front of God, my pastor and the whole congregation. It’s like the whole world has gone mad.

I know it hasn’t, but wow it can feel that way some times.

So, what do you guys do when the news of the world seems to press in on all sides? How do we keep our hearts open, and receptive to others without drowning?

Thoughts?