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a year ago…

I was working six days a week at a candy store because it was the Christmas season. I was pushing the waves of loneliness that strike me this time of year aside because I worked… a lot. I was setting aside my true, yet kind of awful, feelings of jealousy and envy of what seemed to be everyone else who had a family and was living out their family traditions. I was preparing to have surgery, for my doctor to remove one of my ovaries, to hopefully get a solid answer as to what was happening to me, and to find out if I had cancer. You know, all the typical yuletide stuff. 

Here I sit, a year later. Work is taking a very different form than years before as I am no longer at the candy store. I’m figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m following the things that get me excited and bring joy to my life. This isn’t necessarily an easy time, but it is a good time. The waves of loneliness still come and go, but they seem to be a bit different this year and, frankly, I’m not letting them get the best of me. Because loneliness doesn’t deserve my best. 

Surgery happened right after the first of the year and it was more tortuous to be at home resting for two weeks than anything else. My people rallied around me and cared for me in ways that I can’t count. We finally got some solid answers to what was happening with my body. There was and is no cancer. But there were signs of the possibility of cancer in the future, and I am not going out like that. I was in treatment for nine months with a successful outcome. 

I dove into the world of dating with a vengeance. And, well, I sit here still single. Had some mild heart breaks but learned a lot about myself and just how resilient I am. My ideals about dating were also reinforced. I hate it. It’s one of the those catch-22’s and, well, I’m still doing it. Maybe one day I’ll have a great date. 

Along with turning 40 a year and a half ago came an “I don’t care” attitude about most things that are somewhat inconsequential to the outcome of my life and the world. And let me tell you, this has been one of the most freeing things, pretty much, in my entire life. And the more things that go into that category, the better off I am. In releasing things that will have absolutely no bearing on the final outcome of my life, my anxiety has decreased tremendously, my appreciation for the things and people that will have a significant place in my life has increased and will continue to increase, and I’m really starting to discover joy again. 

Several months back a friend called me out on my talk about making better choices in my life and making positive changes. “Why not do it now?,” he asked. 

And I had no response. Because there was not any response that could in any shape or form answer that question to my satisfaction. Sure, I’m great at excuses. I’ve been doing that for decades. But in really getting to the heart of it, I was afraid of making changes in my life for no good reason. It was fake. The only thing that was stopping me was myself. So I stopped making excuses to myself. I stopped justifying all the things I thought were great reasons, because they were all lies. Then one day, I put on my shoes and began walking. And then a couple of days later I picked up the pace and began running. Then about two months later I found myself at a starting line for my first 5K. And now I find myself having said yes to training for a triathlon. And frequently asking myself, “Who am I?”

I bought pants a smaller size not too long ago, and now those are getting to big. I can’t really afford a new wardrobe, but what I really can’t afford is making excuses and lying to myself. All of those lies have been deemed inconsequential to my life and therefore they need to go. As the things that had occupied my life a year ago are being dismissed and kicked to the curb, really great things are filling their place. Peace, patience, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and maybe one day love will be added to that list. 

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running into walls hurt

I began tapping my foot. Not because I was impatient, but because I was full of this antsy feeling that I just needed to move. I was sitting on my couch watching TV, a fairly normal ritual in my life. Afterall, I pay for all the streaming and I really need to get my money’s worth. As I was catching up on my Grey’s Anatomy, or any of the other shows that I watch, I was just antsy. I needed to move, but I didn’t. I just sat there tapping my foot.

This was how I did it. I just tapped my foot, not recognizing that this was something more. Not recognizing that I needed to move and not to the other side of the couch. I need to get off my butt and move it. TV will be there, that’s the genius of paid for streaming services, and I can watch it anytime.

One day, I did just that… I began moving.

A friend laid it on the line for me and asked me why not now. Why not go for a goal? Why not set a mark and work towards it? And I didn’t have a good answer to respond with, and because “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to” are not a good answers. And truth be told those are more whining and excuses than answers. And I deplore whining.

Then one day I got up. I got dressed, put my shoes on, and walked outside.

It was early in the morning, traffic was just starting to pick up going through midtown. I set off for a destination unknown, but I had my phone with an app telling me when to walk and when to run. I also had my self-consciousness and my inner critic tagging along for the fun of it. I didn’t realize it at the time but they weighed me down physically, emotionally, and mentally.

The first chirp of “start running now” sounded and I picked up the pace and my feet. The cement was hard and each time my foot landed I felt it through my entire body. This was weird. This was strange. I’m not made to do this and I kind of hate this. Then I noticed the cars going by. A lot of cars going by. With a lot of people in the cars going by. And of course they were watching me. And I instantly felt the weight of the everything I knew to be true about my athletic endeavors from elementary school come sweeping back to me in an emotional punch in the gut. At that point I knew I looked ridiculous. I knew I was ridiculous for even trying this. What was the point? I most likely was the punch line of every joke that was uttered by every driver that went by me this particular morning.

I ran for less than a minute and then stopped. Sure I can tell myself and you it was because I was having a hard time breathing, but the reality was that the emotional rollercoaster that I was starting to experience in that moment was really too much for me to punch through and see that one minute, that mere sixty seconds out. And at that moment I knew I was a coward. Sure, I got up and out, and that is the absolute first step. But then I gave up for what was, frankly, bullshit reasons. The only person losing in this scenario was me.

When my friend asked me later in the day how it went, I told him that I felt ridiculous. I didn’t tell him that I hated it and didn’t want to do it anymore. But I think he got the gist. He told me that I was far from ridiculous. And if anything, the people who saw me, which in reality was probably one person who actually registered seeing me out of the hundreds that passed me, was cheering me on. Most likely with something like, “Wow, good for her! I can’t do that.”

But I did notice something when I was done and walked through my front door. Sure I was sore, because let’s be honest I was using muscles that have been in hiatus for many, many years, but I also felt good. I accomplished something. I got home in one piece. I didn’t fall and have to yell, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” With the hopes that a good soul would come along and help me up. I was upright. I was walking. I was breathing. (An important detail for a life long asthmatic.) I was ready for a shower.

I get up and out most days of the week now. Some things have shifted in my life and my new, albeit temporary, norms are settling in. And some of that includes heading to a park with a jogging path. As the season has changed, I’ve welcomed being outdoors more to usher in the fall and I love it. But with that has also come the fall allergies and the need to carry the inhaler with me.

My new routine of running/walking, with still more walking than running, has also become a mental workout as well. I discovered that I meet new walls and barriers, or excuses, everyday that I can pick up and use at my disposal to not be out there. There is always something to do at home or for someone else or more work to do. There is always some emotional hurdle to jump over. Always an emotional or mental wall to break through. More often than not I am ending my time on the track in tears. These tears are of more celebration that I pushed through and kicked ass than anything else. Sure, I’ve told a few folks who have passed me on the track that I just got sweat in my eyes and that’s why they are watering, but they were well earned tears.

My bottom line is this: not only am I feeling better physically, but I am emotionally as well. In a season that would normally be littered with depression, worry, and heavy anxiety, I am somewhat cool, calm, and collected. A few friends are a little worried that I am not taking things as serious as I need to in this moment, but that’s because they have never seen me like this. And really, I’ve never seen myself like this. And I’m enjoying this new found me. Or maybe better put, this has always been the me, but it’s the me that is no longer shroud with worry, anxiety, or guilt. I’m starting to fill up with joy, peace, patience, and all the other good stuff that comes with that.

Here’s to what’s ahead and so much more of the good stuff! Cheers.

twelve palm trees over

The sky was a bright blue, somewhat typical for as beautiful a Fall day as it was. Just a gentle breeze blew and did enough to wrestle the leaves and move them about a bit. The first match I struck was extinguished by the breeze before the candle took the flame. The second go around I shielded it with my hand and properly lit the candle on the cupcake. As I sat on the dead grass with the still smoking matches, I realized I could very well start a grass fire right here in the middle of the cemetery.

I sat for a moment and watched the flame flicker and the memory crossed my mind of my dad’s last birthday. Twenty two years ago I made him a chocolate cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries in the middle, dark chocolate ganache frosting, and chocolate dipped strawberries on top. It was a pretty kick ass cake and one that will forever be in my mind as “Jim’s Cake.”

So I sat there this morning, at his grave, looking onto the graves of my grandparents, his parents, and realized that at this point he has been dead more years than I had with him. Yet, I am the person I am today because of his influence. Because of what he taught me. Because of the mistakes I saw him make. Because of the things he said and did that I saw and heard.

As I ate the cupcake, I remembered when he would walk into the ice cream shop, order a chocolate milkshake, and then proceeded to instruct the person on how to make it. Vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and milk. There was absolutely no deviation away from that formula for him. And if it wasn’t done right, he would request it to be made over the correct way. He would also tip handsomely because of his selective pickiness. But there was absolutely no separating the man from getting his chocolate milkshake the way he wanted it.

His grave is twelve palm trees over, on the back driveway to the cemetery. I don’t go often and it’s been years since I’ve been there. We buried him on an incredibly rainy day in January almost twenty three years ago and didn’t have a graveside ceremony. I received the flag that was on top of his casket and had never cried so hard in my life. It was a moment that my heart still aches when thinking about.

In the midst of death life still moves on. And it doesn’t matter what the death is. For some it’s the death of a loved one, the death of a marriage, the death of a child, or a career, or almost anything else. I’ve learned to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Now my steps seem to be a little quicker as I’ve started running.

A friend told me recently to be a shark, and the thing with sharks is that in order for them to sustain life, they need to be moving forward. Constantly moving forward. No backward movement. With hesitation I say ok, I’ll be a shark. I know that with hesitation I will have more drive to push beyond it. I’ll have more determination to not let anything stop me.

Great things are ahead for me and twelve palm trees over lies in rest the person who started it all.

The Art of Sharing a Meal

I’m doing my usual late night internet cruising for new recipes, new food ideas. I stumbled upon a herby falafel recipe that I will most likely make, but will probably change up some of the ingredients, keeping the technique intact. My doctor has been heavily suggesting that I adopt a plant based diet. This is an idea I am willing to entertain, but then there is the problem of bacon. I love bacon to much to forever give it up. I mentioned this to my doctor and she then asked me about how much bacon I actually eat. I let her know that it wasn’t a daily or even weekly thing, but I reserve the space to eat bacon when the moment strikes me.

I had a friend who recently had to adopt a plant based diet because her body stopped processing meat in a nice way. I’ll spare you the details, as she has spared me, but needless to say she misses pulled pork a lot. She said to me one day that of course she was loosing weight, because nobody can eat that much broccoli in a day to gain weight. So true. And frankly, who would want to?

I think about food a lot. Not necessarily about eating it, although I do enjoy a good meal or snack, but about how we interact with it, where it comes from, how we treat it, how we are somewhat obsessed with it, how food is a healer, how food is a sustainer, how some of our greatest memories are centered around food, how for some folks their worst memories are about a lack of food, and so much more. The bottom line is I think about food.

I went back to my ground zero and I started to think about my food experiences as a kid. I remember going to the zoo with my grandpa and always wanting one of those pink brick popcorn things. I remember sitting down to dinner at my grandparents house and there would always be sweet pickles of a particular brand and white bread and butter. No meal was complete in my grandpa’s eyes without those. I remember, mostly watching and not helping, my parents turn soil and prepare for a small strawberry patch in our back yard. Then there was a toad in the strawberry patch on night and I basically never went near it again.

I remember watching my grandma dredge chicken for friend chicken. I also remember this particular grandma rolling out her dumpling dough and cutting them into the think noodles before she gently slipped them in the pot of boiling chicken to cook. And I remember this grandma always joking about how she would pick her nose before mixing the potato salad with her hands, adding just that special flavor.

I remember sitting at the same table with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles for holidays and just random family meals. But please don’t let you imagination get to big here, I had a small family. We ate together a lot when I was a kid. But then something changed. Not sure what really changed, but the change was felt at the table because there were fewer meals together. The older I got the more it seemed that those golden memories of family meals faded and there was nothing to replace them. Then one day they stopped.

As an adult, I’m choosing to rebuild those golden memories. Not with my family, so to say, but with folks who I am choosing to be my community. And I am not cramming everyone into my apartment, although about fifteen of us can fit in here with just some mild discomfort. But it is a start.

Anthony Bourdain once said that, “you learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” I believe this and because of this we are changed before we even know it.  From taking time to share a meal with a friend to experiencing the food of another culture to traditions that gather us and we sit for a meal together, we are never the same after these experiences. It may not be a deep, soulful change, but I’m convinced that it is a change nonetheless.

After all, I am the person I am today because of those meals we shared together. And I will continue to become a better person because of the meals that I will have with people in the future. I am excited for that because I know we will eat well and be better people because of it.

earning the right to be heard

I’m sitting at a table that I’ve sat at numerous times with numerous friends. We have pulled apart and dissected life so many times at this very table, it only seemed fitting to sit here and write a while and just let the pen take me where it wants me to go.

I was introduced to the idea of earning the right to heard when I started to volunteer with a local faith based nonprofit organization. The idea was simple: we put ourselves where teenagers were, make ourselves available to them, and eventually, once they got to know us, and we have earned the right to be heard, we would have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Pretty easy and straightforward.

I learned early one, being a leader in this context is absolutely no joke. It full game on. And for someone like me who dives in head first and might ask questions later, or sometimes make my own rules, I was full tilt at this. But beyond just being a leader and bring teens into the folds of my life, I was living this because this resonated with me like almost nothing else. Before I knew it, I was filtering almost everything through the lense of earning the right to be heard.

Not to much long later I went to work for this organization and was living it even more fully. There wasn’t a weekend that didn’t go by that teens were not in my living room for a movie night, art night, or even a Wii dance off. But there was also the kids who just needed a couch to crash on because they got kicked out for the night, or who needed a ride at 2 am because they were at a party drinking too much, or that one kid who just needed a safe place to be. This was living this 24/7 in the context of this ministry. And none of this was foreign to me.

But then life changed. I was no longer working for the organization. I finished out the school year and took a much needed break. I had a new job that brought with it new time commitments. Life just changed. And that season came to an end.

My faith also changed. I’m still solid in what I believe about God, Jesus and the Trinity – but I think about things a little differently now. My theology has changed, matured in a lot of ways. No longer is my faith resting on the laurels of those I once placed on a pedestal as my so-called evangelical gurus. No longer do I feel the need to agree with everything a pastor says because they have the title of pastor. But my love for Jesus is solid, maybe even more solid than it’s been in a really long time.

My relationship with the church has changed a lot too, and I do not know if it will ever be anything close to what it once was. And there maybe people who will read that and be sad. I just read it and it makes me sad. But the reality is this, I am a very different person now than I was when I first started in ministry. I no longer deal in the absolutes that are declared by people, but I linger in the hope that the work of Jesus dying on the cross has done and will do in my life and so many others. I rest in the idea that my humanity is not any more important than the homeless man who bought me a gelato push-pop while I was working one day.

Today I am a different person. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact I really like the person I am today. I can honestly say that I am at a place where I do love myself. This isn’t Narcissus tapping me on the shoulder, but it truly is recognizing what God has created in me. The beauty and realness that God created in me, just for me. And to be used for Kingdom purposes. To live out loud the scriptures that God himself has put breath to in order to see his absolute plan come into our realm.

I’ve had to recognize that God wants to earn the right to be heard with me, and he’s already done that. The work he sent Jesus to do on the cross was enough. But in God’s very own wisdom, he knows that most of the time it’s just not enough for us. And so we ask for more. And he gives us more. Because in his endless pursuit of us, he makes sure we have to ability to know that not only has he earned the right to be heard with us, but that he has earned the right to be our saviour. He has earned the right to reign as our creator. He has earned the right let us rest in him as we fight what can seem like an endless battle for the Kingdom. But it’s not an endless battle. Hope is in the air. Hope is real. Hope is constant. I write these words for anyone who is reading this as much as for myself. Hope is there because he loves us.

And love always wins.

a new hope…

This thing has been alive for almost thirteen years. And by thing, I mean this blog. And it’s seen a lot. Good and bad, sadness and gladness, birth and death… it’s been all over the place.  I think it’s about time for something new. It will have the same name and place, but I think it’s about time for it to change. This needs to change because I’m changing. Well, I’m forcing myself to change and that in and of itself is a big deal. But why not write about it for the entire world, if the entire felt so compelled to, read about it.

Let’s be honest, I will dump most of what’s in my head here, without a second guess. Not because I want to everyone to know my business, but I need to write about it to process it. I need to let out. I need to exercise my mind and my writing just as much as I need to exercise my body. So this is where that will happen.

What does this entail? What are all these changes I speak of?

Well, it’s simple. I changing my diet, or at least the way I eat. Today I’ve started intermittent fasting, which is more of an eating pattern than a diet. I also hate the word diet, so that could be why this is a little more attractive. I’ve been leaning into eating from the mediterranean diet more and more, with some success. I will continue this, but only eating between the hours of noon and 8pm. And drinking a lot of water… a lot of water!

I’m starting an exercise routine. There will be some running and some yoga and eventually some swimming involved. It’s all still coming together, but the bottom line is I will be getting off my couch and moving.

An idea behind this is that I’m training for a triathlon. What? Who am I? Which is precisely the question I had the other day when I hesitantly committed to doing this.

I guess I’m going to find out who I really am.

(And yes, for anyone wondering… that is a Star Wars reference…)

I forgot I like jazz.

I forgot that I liked jazz. There are no words and that might just be the appealing part. I can hear the piano and the drums and saxophone, and any other reeded instruments. I’m not just talking about any jazz, and definitely not the Kenny G brand of jazz. But the Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard kind of jazz. Even in it’s upbeat moments, I’m allowed to wallow in my feelings in the moment or day.
Don Miller said that he didn’t like jazz because there was never any resolve in it. And he went on to say that about God, just like jazz, he doesn’t’ have any resolve. Or so Miller thought. In some odd, weird way I’m ok without resolve. And in a lot of others, having resolve is like oxygen, if I don’t have it, I can’t move on. Which, if we are being honest with each other, is where the rest of us fall.
It’s been forever since I’ve read Blue Like Jazz, and has been even longer since I’ve turned on the Spotify Jazz playlist. But today seemed fitting. I didn’t want words, because there really are no words. Ironically, I actually picked up my computer and starting writing this in the midst of no words. I’ve remained secluded in my apartment, without lights and trying to keep the interaction with people to a minimum. It’s an introvert day. I’ve ignored my chores, need to do them, and now they take me about twice as long as they did several weeks ago. There are a lot of loose ends floating around that most likely will not find any resolve today. And frankly, I’m ok with that. Tomorrow can bring resolve. Tomorrow will bring resolve. I’ve got dishes to do now.

The Dead Dads Club.

I joined the dead dad’s club some time ago. Actually, twenty years ago… today. It wasn’t a membership I had sought after or even wanted to join. Mainly because joining meant I was experiencing an unchangeable force of nature that was going to shift and shake my life in ways that I had no idea how or why.

I remember imaging what this day would be like in a year, in five years, in ten years… I never really went beyond that. It was hard enough to make meager attempts at any years beyond that very day without him, but twenty years? That was completely beyond my emotionally capacity. And to some degree, it still is. But here I sit, twenty years later.

I recently watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where George’s dad dies (season 3, episode 3). He’s standing outside of the hospital and Christina approaches him and says, “There’s a club. The Dead Dads Club. You can’t be in it until you are in it. You can try to understand, can sympathize, but until you feel that loss. My dad died when I was nine. George, I’m really sorry you had to join the club.”

George solemnly looks at her and says, “I don’t know how to exist in a world my dad doesn’t.”

“Yeah, that never really changes,” replies Christina.

And that’s pretty much it. I had no idea how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t. And that hasn’t changed. I have, however, figured out how to be a member of the dead dad’s club.

There’s sadness that comes with the club. And sympathy. And sorrow. And tears… lots of tears. I guess I thought that club membership would somehow help to grow a thicker skin or even be able to tough it out. But really, it’s allowed me to be more more empathetic towards others and myself. I discovered that my world is lacking so much without him. As one of my biggest champions of my education, he wasn’t here to see me graduate from college. He won’t walk me down the aisle when I get married. My kids will never know him. My dad was my greatest champion in doing life well and loving it while I was doing it.

In twenty years I’ve learned to ask what’s next instead of why. Yes, I still question and ask why. And I did that a ton twenty years ago. God took my greatest champion on this earth. God could have chosen to heal my dad for the crazy stupid cancer that overtook his body and life. God could have elected for that moment a miracle to happen and be witnessed by many. But he didn’t.

I fully believe in a God who does not abandon. I fully believe in a God who is not only my creator, but also my greatest champion. I fully believe in a God who compels us to live a life full of faith and trust in him. And in these twenty year later days, that seems a bit easier said than done. But it’s all real and I believe it for every single person.

So, what’s next? Living life. There will always be a void, but there is so much other really good stuff, that the void just seems smaller. There is no one person who could take the place of my dad in my life, but God has seen fit to give me new champions. Friends and family who only want to the best for me. The void sits beside a community of people who fill a lot of similar roles, but just don’t have the witty disposition nor love of hot rods that my dad had.

The truth of the matter is that earthly champions will come and go. And for some of those who go, it will be hard. But the greatest champion for all of us is a loving, grace filled God bigger than any void, and so much better than a membership to the dead dads club.

Lament.

I got stuck again. For the last three years I have been using the same daily devotional for the advent season. The first five are about lament. About Zachariah and Elizabeth. About their barrenness and advanced age. About them walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. About them being righteous before God. About an angel appearing before them and assuring them that they will indeed have a son and he is to be named John. This is the child, the promise, that will go on as Jesus’ cousin, and be known as John the Baptist.

Scholars believe that Zechariah, as a priest was chosen to enter into the temple sanctuary, and had prayed many, many time for two things. First petition most likely included interceding for the nation of Israel and the second petition for a child.

For the past three advent seasons, I can’t seem to get beyond these particular days. It’s the lament that grabs me and holds onto me as though I was clinging for my life. It’s grip is hard and gentle all at the same time. So gentle, it has taken me three years to finally grasp what I feel the Lord saying to me. He is patient and has let me know that my lament in this is what he wants from me. He wants me to make known to him.

My lament usually comes when I am at my end. When I truly believe that I can no longer handle it. When I’m so sorrowfully and dowdy that I can’t seem to operate in life or anything really. When the consuming reality of my life is overflowing, I realized that I don’t like it. I don’t want it. I want something different. So, my intended lament becomes more of a pout. More of a whiney exacerbation of crap that has been let out without anything stopping it. Not really a true lament, just complaining.

What does God want from me?

He wants honesty. He wants truth. He wants what’s real in our hearts and in our minds. He wants to know where I stand with him. And truth be told, by doing all this, exposing ourselves like this, being vulnerable like this, we are showing him all he has created in us and created us to be. If we can’t be this raw and vulnerable with God, then how can we, how can I, expect to be truly real and vulnerable with other people.

My lament is about my desire for a family. A husband. Children. A home established to serve the Kingdom. A big table that has space for many to come to it. A table to share a meal and experience a glimpse of the community that Jesus experiences when he went and ate with people in their homes.

Instead of whining about it, or crying myself to sleep at night, my lament needs to be grown up. I need to put on my big girl pants on and approach God wholeheartedly. I need to approach the creator of the every intricacies of the vast universe with the mightiness that he has created me with. To be brave and lay it all out to him and for him. To pray the very dangerous prayers that will change my life.

Oh wait, I’ve done this before.

I have had a moment where I did strip all the gunk away and approach the throne with authenticity. I prayed to see people as Jesus sees them. To be aware of them. Not to judge a book by it’s cover, but to somewhat accurately know them on the smallest scale. To be able to discern the situation with some accuracy. And when I did that, it all became real. I took my ministry more serious. I started being able to meet people where they were. My heart started to ache for his people. I couldn’t just pass a homeless person on the street and not acknowledge that they to are heirs to the Kingdom. I couldn’t pass a drug dealer on the street and not see that they too are an heir to the kingdom, the exact same kingdom that I am an heir to. They too are children of God, knitted together in their mother’s womb, just as I am.

In these radical prayers, I found my heart tugging almost everyday. Thinking about things I never imagined that I would ever have a tought about. Taking actions on things that I never thought I would do. These radical prayers shaped my heart, shaped my life. They led me to make decision that was so in the face of what my norm was in life, that many people didn’t know how to take it.

So here I am. At a junction. Waiting to just simply make a decision. I can choose to continue being in neutral or I can just do it. I can decided to put my big girl pants on and expose my most inner being to the creator of the universe and take the risk that he will turn everything upside down. Or I can just stay. Just maintain the course I’m on.

I choose my big girl pants.

#3 – anxiety.

I have the privilege of serving at a youth pastors convention this week. It’s long days, spent standing the majority of the time. I get to be the source of most knowledge for the convention delegates. They come with questions and I deliver answers. It’s not a swammy type of situation where I would be wearing a shiny turban on my head, but when they are looking for a seminar location or have come in the wrong entrance and are looking for check-in, I give them directions to get there.

The convention is in my home town, in fact I live 18 blocks away from the convention center, but I am staying in a hotel across the street. It’s much easier to walk across the street to crawl into bed after standing for 12+ hours, then walk the 18 blocks to crawl into bed. Because the convention is here, I have a great opportunity to brag all over the city that I love!

But with all the bragging that I am doing, and sending business to all my favorite restaurants (most of which are locally owned), there are those folks who walk by my in the convention center lobby with looks anxiousness on their faces. Looks of being lost, and not just because they can’t find the entrance to the main event or the bathroom. (Although the looks for those who can’t seem to find the closest bathroom is a somewhat serious situation!)

There is an anxiety in some looks. Because some folks have come with great expectation of change. Change of attitude or change of heart… they still have arrived with the expectation of change. Some have come with broken hearts. No matter if it’s because of sin on their part or the part of others, there they come here broken. And even others have arrived empty. They have poured every last ounce of who they are and what they had into the kids they minister to.

No matter what we have arrived here with, lack of something or an abundance of other things, we are all looking for the best possible experience. We are all expecting to experience God in big ways. The hardest part in that expectation, is realizing that our own anxiety can be the very things that prevents us for truly experiencing what God has in store over the next couple of days. Setting aside all that we need to in order to fully experience God in real and tangible ways this week requires us to give all our anxiety to him and to fully expect him to do great things in our live.