Taking Faith on a Dare

Are you a sucker for a dare or a challenge? I wish that I could answer “no” to that question, but sadly and all too often the answer is “yes.” In my younger days, tackling a challenge usually meant that I would get myself into some sort of trouble. There was that time that I had to prove that I could ramp a BMX bike like my younger brother and his friends. That one landed me on my head – literally, complete with a ride in an ambulance and a luxury, all-inclusive stay at our local hospital.

More recently, the dares and challenges that I accept would be considered “good for me.” I fell for that 30-day plank challenge that was all the rage on social media. Nailed it! Back in 2007, I was goaded into running a half-marathon. Crushed it!

No, I was not a runner. No, I don’t enjoy running. Yes, I get a deep sense of satisfaction when I push myself to achieve goals that seem just out of my reach. In this sense, my stubborn streak could be seen as both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, we could be calling 9-1-1 or on the other I could enjoy toned arms and abs of steel for 30-days.

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Chaotic Musings: Holiday Edition

Chaos is a funny thing. Sometimes it overwhelms me. The cacophony consumes me. Other times, it swirls about me perfectly choreographed so that it comes ever close but never actually touches me. Like a Square Dance caller who yells “Swing Left” at the precise moment when “swing right” would have all the madness crash into me.

(Don’t tell me you didn’t Square Dance in junior high. It’s an American right of passage. Or at least, I thought.) Read more

Chaotic Musings

As I pen this post, chaos is all around me – literally. Movers are delivering furniture. Tile workers are destroying the kitchen backsplash. A painter is ripping sheets of old wallpaper from the hallway. A woodworker is staining the stairs. The dogs are barking. The noise-cancelling headphones only block out so much.

In the midst of this chaos, it occurs to me – I can handle it. This is no big deal. I’m not even rattled. Why? Because I know the plan. I can envision how the mess will come together in the end. I know that the upheaval is both temporary and necessary. I can buy into the vision because it’s my vision. I created it (with help of course).

Life’s chaos shouldn’t be any different. But it is. Why? Simple answer – it’s not our plan. Granted, we are too frequently participants of our own pandemonium, but so often our lives are thrown into disarray by outside forces. The boss is breathing down our necks and our inboxes are piling up. The teacher schedules yet another conference to discuss Little Johnnie (or Jeannie’s) “leadership skills” in the classroom. The dogs chew your new sofa. Phone calls come in rapid succession sharing unbearable news.

In the throes of turmoil, we lose sight of the game plan. We forget that the mess is going to come together in the end. The final outcome is so simple and so satisfying –  no more tears. That’s great and it’s easy to get on board with that plan. I love that plan, but what about today?

Even though God has shared his vision with us, I still struggle in these in-between days. God has shared the beginning, and He’s laid out the end. God even warns that the in-between days will be frenzied and disordered, but I still want more. I want to know. On my worse days, I want to fix it.  I desire to impose my vision when I’ve only been invited to partake of God’s vision. God has not appointed me to a heavenly Board of Directors for purposes of devising a strategy for moving forward.

God’s smart like that. I may (with the right help) be capable of choosing some fresh paint colors and a new countertop, but God knows that running the universe is outside my skill set.

God is the master Artist. In the beginning, He created the universe in the way a painter looks at a blank canvas and begins to apply color. God created out of nothing. The first strokes on canvas can appear haphazard to the bystander. Yet as layer after layer of paint is added, a scene comes into focus.

These middle days are the days of haphazard color and missing layers. God sees the finished work that is still outside our realm of comprehension. The day is coming. The final stroke will be applied to the canvas. We will see the final masterpiece in all of its Glory. We’ll be able to see how the brushstrokes of our own lives fit into the whole and how the finished piece wouldn’t be whole otherwise.Warhol Quote

So, as I soak in the frenzied creativity taking place all around me – I am reminded to step back. I’m reminded that when life feels out of control, He is always in control. I’m reminded to trust God’s ultimate vision. I’m reminded that when our tears our wiped away, we’ll see clearly.

SDG

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Some of my fondest memories growing up in the late 70s was when my daddy took on the role of  “human jukebox.” We didn’t call it that back then, but that’s what he did. We’d all sit around the turntable as he’d carefully slip away the album cover and then cajole the album from its sleeve. There in his deep, olive hands would gleam black, shiny vinyl. Daddy would ever so gently place the album onto the turntable and guide the arm to the exact spot that would play his song of choice. As the song wound down, he’d reverse the process and then start over with the next song on his “playlist.” We’d do this for hours. Read more

A Cell with No Lock

A lot of people have great conversion stories. I’m not one of those people. I wish that I were, but my “conversion” story is pretty mundane. Church is woven through every memory I have. Church for me was just a part of growing up like going to school and family dinners on Sunday afternoon. In some ways, I’m jealous of those who can pinpoint the exact moment or time period when they first believed. My nephew, Chase Chism, is one of those people. This week, my sister-in-law, Shala Rudd, shared a video on social media of his testimony. The Power that overtook him when he first believed jumps out and grabs you! My “run-of-the-mill-grew-up-in-the-church” story doesn’t have that same zing to it. Read more

Hope: A Feeling or a Choice?

When I was a kid, my Mamaw had this funny expression. When I’d ask where she was going, she’d always gather her fingers to her thumb, waive her hand at me, and in a thick Sicilian accent respond, “Palermo!”

It made no sense. I had no idea who, what, where, or when “Palermo” was. And, sensing that she was not in the mood for additional questions, I’d let it drop. Still wondering… Palermo?

This next part is a little embarrassing, but here goes. Read more

Justice is Served

I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty-five years pleading a case. My office was a courtroom where I arranged facts for a judge so that he or she would ultimately see things my way. Of course, there was usually someone on the other side of the room who arranged the facts differently in the hope that the judge would see things their way instead.

The judge didn’t always see things my way. If I’m being entirely forthright, then I must admit that sometimes my version of the facts wasn’t always the best version. Then, there were other times when I still feel strongly that the judge sided against me wrongly. My facts were better, but justice wasn’t served.

Don’t you feel a little like that when seeking justice in your own circumstances? You are dealing with a cheating spouse. Thieves run off with your car. A “friend” gossips behind your back. A drunk driver hits head on. Where’s the justice? Read more