holy moments

Lord, who am I that you would honor me with your presence?

Who am I that you would call me chosen?

Who am I that you would call me into an intimate journey with you?

The inner ramblings of my soul were intensified after a holy encounter at Leogane last week.

It was an odd mix of ages and eclectic life experiences, paired with intense love for music and Jesus.

Our trio of Americans walked to the back of Leogane as our pint sized entourage floated around us to visit the grandparents. Arriving under the shade of the mango tree, we were quickly told to sit as grandparents left their own seats to offer us their ingrained hospitality. The young man with us adamantly tried to get the grandmas to sit back down, so he wouldn’t take precious seating. Then he succumbed to their extreme hospitality when one grandma brought over a tattered business chair missing the back rest and padding, as she quietly put a pillow down for him to sit on, then pushing him into it.

A weird mix of emotions collides in those moments.

Who are we to deserve a seat in their presence? Who are we to deserve that extreme hospitality in a place we only desire to serve and love? Yet, to deny the hospitality is to insult, where we only want to love.IMG_2686

The young man tuned his guitar, the song sheets were held under the teamwork of feet so the wind would not claim it and music was offered into the air.

But then God made himself known and his Holy Spirit presence became tangible. What was meant as a gift of music became a merging of worship by al l ages where language is only an afterthought while the only real language needed is communion with the One we serve. Time suspended. Prayers were offered. Sacred ground.

The gift of discernment in the moments of worship is unique to incredibly talented individuals and, the young man and woman sitting with me are incredibly talented. They will continue to grow and they will continue to carry experiences with them that defined their future, but I truly pray last week marked their lives in the way only the Holy Spirit can mark someone. It is cloudy to see at times and this world makes it distorted, but they honored the sacred ground God created through their talent by simply being present.

As they finished the last song, the notes drifted up and away, and the Creole prayers that had been murmured the last few minutes became audible. Beautifully crafted and time scarred hands covered faces as the women who sat with us prayed. Church should not be bound by building, language or culture, and worship cannot be contained to lyrics and notes. As I caught glimpses of these women I love and deeply respect, they were worshipping at church as tears glistened in their eyes. God used these two teens to bring a random time of church into the sacred space of the widows and orphans living together at Leogane due to some version of being discarded, abandoned and victims of poverty in Haiti. Young or old, it’s the same classification of orphan that God calls us to champion.

The women gradually, and almost reluctantly, opened their eyes and started repeating in Creole, “I am very happy. Thank you. I am very happy. Thank you.”

Mustering every ounce of Creole I could, I launched into broken Creole, “They are happy, too. They wanted to bless you with their music.”

Immediately, the grandma sitting closest to us thrust her hands over her eyes to hide her face, yet glanced back at us with questions in her eyes.

“Why would they want to bless me? I want to bless them,” she repeated over and over again as her humility at the thought of her guests, in her home, wanting to bless her overcame her.

I took a deep breath before I translated it to the teens around me, because in those simple words that moment of worship became one of the most Holy moments I’ve been a part of in Haiti. Images of women in the Bible who were marked and healed by Jesus flooded my mind along with what they might have humbly said in Jesus’ presence.

The Samaritan woman at the well…“Who am I that he knows what I did?”

The adulterous woman awaiting the rocks to be thrown…“Who am I that he would stand up for me? That he would not condemn me?”

Mary as she used an expensive bottle of perfume…“Who am I that he would accept this gift from me?” While Jesus defended her actions with, “Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Mary as Jesus appeared to her after his resurrection…“Who am I that he would show himself to me?”

photoAs I translated to the teens, the startled look in their eyes was clear…what they had intended as a simple gift of music had turned into a moment in their young lives that they would have a difficult time putting into words or even pointing back to as holy. Each of their minds raced to think of what to say as the symbiotic blessing became inexpressible among us.

Who were we to be allowed to step into that Holy moment together?

Who were we to be honored with the presence of each other?

Haitians and Americans. Young and old. Sunk deep into, and marked by, a holy moment lead by the intense humility of one woman intensely loving and honoring her Savior.

 

 

 

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wisdom

When was the last time you had no clue as to what to say to someone? No words. No answers. No problem solving. No wisdom. Just legitimate loss for what to say.

I was having this conversation with a friend tonight when afterward I got into my car and the lyrics playing as soon as the sound came on were: “When you don’t know what to say…just say Jesus.”

Just pause for a second and let that sink into your thoughts.

Sometimes wisdom does come into play. Out of all the things God felt we needed to pass on in a written form from one generation to the next…there are books in the Bible completely focused on wisdom.

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” [1 Kings 3:5-9]

First we have to acknowledge that Solomon was asleep. In a unconscious, dream state…and not only is he mature and articulate, but he is asking for wisdom and discernment.

In a dream. Where he refers to himself as a child.

God does not very often show up and give the opportunity for us to ask for anything we want, then provide it based on the fact we are ah-mazing. Many of us wish that more than anything…but then again, would we be smart enough to ask for wisdom? Or would it be something frivolous?

I know several people that would ask for a car, iPad or vacation. But I also know several teens that would ask for food for the hungry, homes for the homeless and release of the oppressed.

However, my favorite part of that scripture is that Solomon wanted a ‘discerning heart’ to ‘distinguish between right and wrong.’ That is either an incredibly wise thing to ask for…or experience talking. Discernment goes beyond wisdom. It is knowing what is of God and what is not of God. We should all be asking God for more discernment based on the world we live in.

Wisdom is not about knowing everything. No one likes a no-it-all. It’s about knowing where you end, and God begins and the difference between the two. It is also about prayer and presence. Wisdom is one thing, but it is not a replacement for talking with God and having a community around you to affirm discernment.

And when you really don’t know what to say…just say Jesus.

alone

Water swirls around me as I catch a breath then tuck my head back into the blissful quiet of the pool.

Stroke. Kick. Stroke. Kick. Breathe. Stroke. Kick. Stroke. Kick.

All alone.

When I am swimming it is one of the most peaceful times for me to decompress and clear my head. Second only to hanging out in God’s glorious nature. I may be outgoing, but God doesn’t speak through my outgoing moments. His presence is felt and he speaks through the times I am alone. Quiet. Dreams. Rest. I have to be disciplined to grab onto those moments, or suffer the separation from my Savior. Not good for me…ever.

This morning I woke up with a random song in my head, and while I was swimming the chorus was on a loop…breathing in and out of my soul as I was catching breathes between strokes.

Sometimes I need something to run like a mantra through my head for it to truly sink in.

I am set free. It is for freedom that I am set free.

I actually couldn’t remember the rest of the lyrics. But this mantra of my freedom associated with ‘it is for freedom I am set free’ was continuous.

As I mulled it over, losing track of laps…freedom to bring others freedom or freedom for me to rest in after being set free.

When we got back from the pool (and after the Duke game…priorities…) I hit the iPod.

You mend my life with your holy fire. You cover me with grace.

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It takes time alone with God for me to feel that mending with his Holy fire. And oh how it can be a raging Holy fire at times…

What this freedom, and mending, means for me is to be free of the shackles of the expectations of others.

Freedom is not suffocating in the sin my Savior willingly takes from me.

Free of the chains holding me to a person I am not.

Freedom to proclaim what I am called to and what I am not called to, and being set free to be that person.

Freedom to bask in the Holy Spirit fire that guides me, restores me and draws me to the heart of God.

Freedom to grasp with my last dying grip to the peace that Jesus freely gave in John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

It is being alone with God where I feel the most clarity in my spirit, his peace and where I see most clearly my past, future and the now. Free of distraction, and my mind empty for God to fill…a woman in process and mended by his Holy fire.

(Lyrics from ‘I am set free’ by All Sons and Daughters)

happy

mar 11 - happy Strength

Today I am happy.

An unnatural happiness, actually.

It could be because a week from tomorrow I leave to go see my amazing best friend in Utah. (Photo on right from the last time we got together in Utah…expect greatness in a few weeks!)

Or because our church was so full of vibrant, beautiful life last night at the Bible Series viewing party.

Or I could be still on cloud nine from Duke beating North Carolina last Saturday. (If you missed that game…I’m sad for you. No really.)

Or because my friend just accepted a dinner invitation, and she knows how much I love being in community around tables.

Or because I am looking forward to meeting with the zaniest group of ladies who are on fire for serving others and spreading what I like to call the ‘propoganda’ tonight.

Or it could be because I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

Or maybe even because this slice of pizza I am eating right now has extra olives. It is always the small things, after all.

But today those things are just happy contributions to my Monday.

Today happiness comes from the pure, sweet Holy Spirit filling my soul.

Laughter bubbling easily from my lips.

Easy going nature fully restored.

Songs are heard through my office door as I cannot contain my worship. (I’m not sorry if I’m annoying you! Worship with me!)

This Lenten journey started 27 days ago…27 looooonnnng days ago.

Before this journey started I never imagined I could stick with blogging every day. It takes its toll, and at times I want to throw the towel in…ok A LOT of times. Then my stubborn side kicks in and I get my blog posted before I go to sleep for the night, which I count as that ‘day,’ by the way.

But over halfway through this Lenten journey there are so many amazing things happening.

I am in scripture more and I am LOVING being in God’s word again, with passion instead of obligation.

I am listening more. God still speaks…we just never make room to listen.

I am worshipping more, since I gave up ‘secular music’ for Lent. Check out the ‘Jammin’ tab at the top of the blog and you’ll see what I’ve been worshipping to this Lent season. I’ve actually been jammin’ today all by my happy little self. (My boss walked by and said, ‘Well, aren’t you the songbird today!’)

I am uttering prayers more consistently than usual.

I am being more intentional.

I am being more like the person God desires me to be…and that feels pretty damn good.

Endnote: I was going to find the ‘perfect’ scripture for the Rethink Church word today, ‘happy,’ but then I decided God’s people reflecting his joy is the best visual of ‘happy’ scripture out there.