Monday, March 10, 2014

I Want It Now: When You're That Bratty Willy Wonka Character

Satan rushes. God leads.

That's how the email started, which made me want to shut it. Instead, I read the entire thing because my first urges are rarely right.

It was a newsletter from Dave Jewitt, founder of Your One Degree, an incredible life coaching program that I have yet to finish. Your One Degree takes you step by micro step through a process, supported by your personal life coach, to discover why the bloody blue blazes you exist.

That's not exactly how their marketing materials read, but I'm close.

Jewitt, who I've had the privilege to meet on several occasions, designed his scripturally-based program to help people discover what God uniquely created them to do, who God uniquely created them to be.

When you can go in any of the 360-degrees around you, Jewitt's program helps you discover that one degree you were uniquely crafted to go.

And I really need to finish it.

When I opened the email, the first words caught me off guard. You see, in the last week, around 2ish in the afternoonish last Thursday, in fact, I decided to move. Literally and figuratively. I began mentally packing up my things. I had decided to forget this whole waiting business, I'm changing things and I'm changing them now.

And, don't misunderstand me, I'm not exactly changing my mind here. In fact, my mind already ordered a U-Haul.

But Jewitt's words reminded me of something that, in my haste, I had really wanted to ignore: I'm not the one ordering my steps.

Here's what he went on to say, "It is essential to 'give God space to work' in your life. In other words, take time to pray, listen, seek wise counsel, get in the Word, and evaluate the opportunity in light of your DESIGN."

My first thought was, "crap."
My second thought was, "I'll think about it."

photo courtesy of
When I want something, I generally want it now, much like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Any patience I show following the moment I want whatever I want feels like righteous bonus points.

Hello. I waited.

And if I have to wait a long time, as in YEARS, or even DECADES, well, heck, I imagine Job himself is up in heaven nodding and applauding my effort.

Ah, shucks. Thanks Job.

I want movement. I want things to change. And I want it now. Is that so wrong? And maybe "wrong" is one of those words subject to interpretation. Yes?

Patience isn't one of my better virtues. In fact, growing up my girlfriends and I often used the phrase "patience has ceased to be a virtue" whenever what we wanted didn't happen when we wanted it. Or in the days, weeks, months, or years following.

Not that what we wanted was bad. It was usually good things: health, direction, a job, a husband, a family, all things God imprinted in our DNA to want. But how we want them is where the journey gets stuck to the bottom of our shoe.

Like gum. Like really annoying gum.

What I want right now isn't bad, either. It's purpose. It's direction. It's settling the upheaval of my life into a neatly organized, alphabetically filed, corners folded in precise 90-degree angled structure. (I also want my name on an encyclopedic-like series of hardback fiction books lining every shelf in America.) In other words, the "what" of what I want isn't bad, but the "how" of what I want might be a twinge murky.

I'm not going to tell you to stop wanting what you want. If you've prayed about it, if you've sought direction, if you've wholeheartedly committed your life to glorifying God, then God Himself probably imbedded that "want" into your very marrow.

So want it. Don't ever stop wanting it, in fact. Don't let anything or anyone convince you that wanting isn't exactly what God wants.

But want it right.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to cancel a certain U-Haul truck. Or, at the very least, reschedule.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Jeff Gordon and The Ride of Your Life. Part Deux.

The first time.

The doubter.

First lesson: This is what they mean when they say "content is King." And the King drives like a bat out of hell.

Second lesson: Don't doubt Jeff Gordon.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love's a Fighter Not a Lover

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love, I've wondered, may be made out of mohair.

It's warm, fuzzy, cute, and when you're wearing it, everyone around you and everything you touch is sprinkled with a little piece. Strands of mohair also stick to your lip gloss and love might do that, too.

That's the cutesy side to love. The flowers and candy and such. The fat, diapered baby with arrows. The rom-coms and date nights. And there's not a bloody thing wrong with any of it.

So it's cheesy. So what. Revel in it, my friends. Enjoy the ridiculousness. Life has lots of serious moments so never discount the lighthearted ones you're given. They are gifts, hand-wrapped by that same diapered baby, in fact. That kid really gets around.

The soft stuff, however, isn't what I'm thinking about today. Today of ALL days I'm thinking about fighting. Real left hook/right hook kind of fighting. No holds barred style. The kind that hurts and usually draws blood.

In other words, today I'm thinking about love.

This song by Switchfoot found me months ago on a day too heavy to live underneath. A day I was driving myself to the hospital, yet again, to get more bad news, yet again, and all I could think about was how I didn't have any fight left in me. I was tapped out. Truth was, at that moment I'm not sure I loved anything enough to throw a punch for it. Not even my own life. It was a day after a long siege of days where pain and struggle and uncertainty were the only thing on my horizon and the only thing scheduled to rise again tomorrow.

I drove, but I drove without hope. And that's when this song came on.

Life at that moment wasn't worth the fight. Neither was my future, my dreams, my faith, or my hopes, which had faded like draperies in east-facing windows. But I had no options but to keep moving forward because, in life, there's no such thing as reverse.

So I drove. And I listened to this song.

In the middle of nothingness, when I'd lost all purpose and heart to take one more hit or go one more round, God was showing up to tell me He, alone, was worth the fight. Not the life I had wanted but didn't have. Not the plans I had designed but couldn't complete. Just God. Just love. That's all I needed. If He was the only thing left about my life, then it was still worth fighting for. And He would be its Savior.

Again. Over and over, in fact.

During recovery, this song became my anthem. I played it quite a lot, actually. Still do. And on days when all I can do is put one foot in front of the other, I still put on my headphones, turn on this song, and put one foot in front of the other.

If this finds you in that kind of a moment, or that kind of a month, year, or decade, then all I have is one piece of advice: Love, all by itself, is worth fighting for.

It's worth pushing yourself forward. It's worth battling back all the obstacles ahead. It's worth facing fear. It's worth getting up and going through the motions, even when you've done it thousands upon thousands of times before. It's worth not giving up, not walking away, not growing cold or hardened or detached from the hope that things can and will improve, that God will answer you one way - one day - or another, that whatever in your life has died, you have a Savior who specializes in resurrection.

When you have nothing left to fight for, that's okay. Just do it for love because love will never stop fighting for you.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Project: Jamba Juice

Make them thirsty. Make them think "energy." Make them wish they weren't this girl on a bicycle. That last one wasn't a directive for this project, but I go my own way.

Here's my Jamba Juice commercial. Enjoy the creative concept. Listen to the brilliantly contrived script. Get thirsty. That's all I ask for in life.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Quote Me Not

Today I froze an egg on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

God Raises The Dead Even On Your Off Days.

Chauncey Crandall wasn't having a great day. Not horrible. Not great. Work was piling up, people were demanding, and then a guy died on him.

You know. That kind of a day.

Less than an hour later, however, the dead guy would come back to life. So, in retrospect, maybe it wasn't that bad of a day after all.

When Jeff Markin walked into the Palm Beach Gardens Hospital on September 20, 2006, he had no idea he'd be playing the role of Lazarus. Right there on the emergency room floor his life took a very sharp turn, or, better stated, made a blunt stop.

And after 43 minutes of working to bring him back, Dr. Chauncey Crandall, the supervising cardiologist, (who still wasn't having all that great of a day) declared Jeff dead.

Although Jeff and Chauncey were both having days not going according to plan, God wasn't having the same frustration. He had His agenda right in front of Him, spread out on his larger-than-life mahogany desk. And right in the slot that said "raise Jeff Markin from the dead," God was right on time.

(God, unlike Jeff and Chauncey, was having a great day.)

Here's the part of the story that interested me when I heard about it yesterday. Not that men coming back to life isn't a real headline maker, but here's where I started to relate to Chauncey Crandall and his bad day.

Chauncey had a God-appointed task to perform. He may not have started his day thinking he would participate in one of God's God-appointed tasks, but, just like God is wont to do, God decided he'd keep it to Himself until the time of His choosing.


As Chauncey left the room, a voice told him to go back and pray for that man. The one back there getting prepped by a nurse for the morgue. The one with the appointment with a toe tag. Yeah. That guy. The dead one. Pray for him.

He argued, of course. But God, isn't that just like God, was persistent.

So Chauncey returned. He put his hands on Jeff's chest, the one with no heartbeat, and prayed. And he did so with very little faith. He prayed not really believing it would make any difference. He prayed - not because he felt compelled by a fiery burning of spiritual awakeness in the pit of his stomach that was only completed with a sudden glory light of holiness ringing his head like a halo while the Hallelujah Chorus sang in four-part harmony in his ears - because God asked him to pray. He prayed out of obedience.

"This day that I prayed for Jeff," said Chauncey, "was a day of very little faith. It wasn't one of my big God days."

Think typical daily grind. That's what Chauncey was experiencing.

"And when I walked into that emergency room, to tell you the truth, I didn't want to stay and pray because I was so much in a rush with my work. But I prayed. And I didn't have a lot of faith backing that prayer up that day, but the Lord asked me to do it so I honored the Lord and prayed."

The rest of the story is: Dr. Chauncey Crandall asked the indulgence of one of the attending doctors to shock Jeff Markin one more time. Remember, he had been dead for 43 minutes. His time of death had been called. He was what Miracle Max would call "all dead" not "mostly dead."

Yet he came back to life, anyway.

Jeff came back from a place he described as completely dark. Isolated. And hopeless. A place he knew would be his to live, for all eternity, alone.

What's amazing to me is that, in that moment, Jeff Markin needed an Abraham. Or an Elijah. A Moses. Or a Paul, first name Apostle. He needed men who had big God days everyday.

Instead he got a Chauncey on an off day. And God still raised him from the dead.

I'm not sure what that says about your day. Or your tomorrow. I'm not even sure how to completely equate that to the grind of clocking in every day, not to a job, but to a life that, before we even live it, we've diagnosed as ripe with little God days.

Maybe, like me, most of your days feel like little God days. These are the days that hold no overpowering zeal, no walk-on-water actions, no surprises, not of the good variety anyway. Outside of traffic flow and slight temperature adjustments, these days are so much alike you need a calendar and a muscular alarm to differentiate the passing of one and the beginning of another.

God never shows up on these kinds of days. We know this because we've lived thousands before today and we'll live thousands after. Maybe. And what we discover is that everyday, except for brief stints of vacation periods and times of extreme trauma, are little God days.

Or so we think. 

Here's the problem with little God days: it takes a little god to live inside them. And God, last time I looked at a sunrise, a mountain, or the complexity of my fingernail, is what you would call the antonym of "little." 

So here's my challenge. For you and for me.

I want to wake up tomorrow and have a BIG God day. I want to look for Him. Even more than that, I want to expect Him. I want to stumble out of bed, stub my toe, drop the shampoo bottle at least three times in the shower, have my hairdryer short circuit, melt my XCVI pants with a too hot iron, break the yoke on my morning eggs, run my car until it sputters out of gas, have my first appointment of the day waiting impatiently for me when I get to work, and still have a big God Day.

Or, if I could skip the part about ruining my XCVI pants, that'd be okay, too.