Monday, December 30, 2013

You say it's your birthday...

I have this friend, this fantastic, brilliant, witty, compassionate, quiet force to be reckoned with, talented, don't mess with her or you will be the subject of a snarky text or ecard, amazing, wonderful friend.

She has seen her share of heartache and pain.  She has seen the depths of hurt, fear, loss and some how manages to pick herself up every time.  Every.time.  More than once I have looked at her life and wondered why God was calling her to be the modern day Job.  More than once I have looked up at the heavens, on her behalf, and said "Really?  This has got to stop!"  Yet, after every blow, every moment of heartache, my friend picks herself up and continues on with determination and a soul deep strength I sometimes wonder if she really knows she has.

My friend is also my best text buddy.  When my phone ribbits or says "Whaaatt??" in a decidedly Despicable Me Minion voice, I secretly hope it's her with some witty or sarcastic something or a fantastic picture of slippers...okay, sorry, that was totally an inside joke...those texts can take my day from blah to tears streaming down my face funny.  If we were to publish a book of our texts, well, let's just say a whole lotta people would be thinking a whole lot differently about us.  Some days they are snarky, some days angst filled, some days just meant to make the other person laugh.  She keeps me grounded and reminds me that I am loved.

In the last couple of years, life has taken us from weekly face to face check ins to rare moments of time together.  I miss her, yet I know God is doing something new in both our lives.  The time we have spent together has been precious and wonderful.  I pray there will be many more times ahead.  I am grateful for her presence in my life, for the opportunity I have had to sit on the sidelines and cheer her on, for the unwavering love and support she has given.  My life is better because of her friendship.

Today is my friend's birthday.  I wish her a year of love, happiness, poignant moments, peace, hope, renewed vision, faith that continues to move mountains and lots and lots of laughter.

Happy Birthday, my friend.  I love you more than words can say.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Taking responsibility

"This is all your fault, well, you and J.B*,"  New Pastor at New Church said to me on Christmas Eve.

I looked around the room, at the 75 or so people mingling and laughing, hugging and reconnecting.  I looked around the room with the multiple Christmas trees, twinkling lights, the angels and wreaths, the candles and the kids attempting to keep their candle lit as long as possible.  The music we had sung, the scripture that was read, the message of enjoying the presents and the presence (of Jesus), the story time with kids gathered listening eagerly and the sounds of children being children throughout the service filtered back through my mind.

I thought back to the day we were decorating the church for the Christmas season, with college students in abundance clearly enjoying putting up trees and decorations, when Yo Momma came up to me and said "New Pastor isn't sure if we will have a Christmas Eve service this year."  I thought back to my immediate reaction "What?  Why?  I will lead the music if that's the problem."  Low attendance the year before was one of the reasons.  "That's not a good enough reason for me."  I said.  I approached New Pastor moments later and said "I will be happy to lead music for the Christmas Eve service if the usual people don't want to."  I got an email that following Tuesday...Christmas Eve was on.

I thought back to all those things, to Yo Momma and I leading in Christmas Carols of joy as we had done together so often in the past, looked at New Pastor and smiled, "I'm okay with this being my fault.  I gladly take responsibility."

*Giving credit where credit is due, J.B. came up to Yo Momma after the service and thanked her for helping to lead the music and encouraging New Pastor to have the Christmas Eve service.  She's an instigator!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wait, what did you just sing?

We had an early Christmas celebration with Lil Bro, New Sis and Little Miss P last weekend.  Lil Bro works nights during the winter (there may not be snow falling out of the sky in CA but the ski resorts are making it and someone has to groom those slopes!), so New Sis and Little Miss P spent the weekend at the Tahoe house with us (Yo Momma, Papa Bear and I).

Little Miss P has the family singing gene and is often humming to herself.  At one point she was singing whatever song popped into her head at the given moment, even if it wasn't the one she was singing a second before.  Then she just started making up a song as she played.  It was very entertaining.

When I was in choir and leading the worship team at old church, one of the things we kept in our minds was the need to enunciate our words while singing.  I notice it all on the time on the radio.  I'll be singing along and suddenly realize the words I heard aren't really the words that are being sung...and I'm not really sure what the words are supposed to be.  Take for instance that song "You're my Sweetheart aka I belong with you, you belong with me."  The lyrics clearly say "You're my sweetheart", yet when listening I swear they say "home".  Doesn't make sense but that is what I hear...or don't hear.

So, this weekend, as Little Miss P was singing I had to stop and ask her to repeat what she was singing, twice because I wasn't really sure what I was hearing.  Now, whoever took "Jingle Bells" and rewrote the words to be "Christmas Bells, Christmas Bells, ring them all the day, tell the world that Jesus came to take our sins away!" (or some variation of that) is just messing with little kids heads.  Little Miss P sang the Christmas Bells version at her program a few weeks ago and clearly they are in her head...but so is Jingle Bells.

This is what she was singing:

"Christmas Bells, Christmas Bells,
ring them all the day.
Oh what fun it is to ride in a
Ho-Ho-Hopen sleigh."

Yes, she has mashed two lyrics together and came up some new lyrics herself...and for the record, I have no idea what a Ho-Ho-Hopen sleigh is and I don't want to know.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's a mystery

The Internet told me recently the identity of the "tips for Jesus" person has been revealed.  The news made me a little sad.  I really don't want to know who was going around leaving enormous tips for waiters and waitresses across the country.  It simply didn't matter.  I liked the mystery, the thought that there was someone out there doing something nice for others without needing recognition.

A few years ago I was given an anonymous gift of money.  It was significant and beautiful and as much as my curiosity was on high alert, I didn't need to know who had given the money to me.  I wrote a Thank You note, gave it to the person who did know and allowed the mystery to remain.

Several years earlier another gift had been given, to the church.  A very rundown room was all of a sudden furnished with beautiful furniture.  It was lovely.  The donors wanted to remain anonymous.  10 years later there were still people trying to figure out who had given the furniture to the church.

There are debates being waged left and right about what God thinks and who is "in" and whose "out", the hierarchy of sins and on and on and on...I wonder, sometimes, if we aren't seeking answers to things that will remain a mystery until we are face to face with God.  Answers that we, in our humanness, really* need to figure out but answers we may never have a black or white answer to because  God is mighty, powerful, compassionate, grace-filled and mysterious**.

I think I have things figured out and then I read the Bible again and everything gets flipped upside down.  I see a verse or a word I had never seen before and I am suddenly rethinking my stance. I look forward to asking God some serious questions (and please, don't tell me that I won't want to ask questions when I, hopefully, meet God...I have questions!!  Yes, mosquito's top the list.)  Until that time, I am perfectly okay with there just not being clear answers to some questions.  I am okay with the mystery.

*At least that is what we tell ourselves because we humans need to set limits.  I'm not convinced God sets as many limits.
**This is a non-exhaustive list of the qualities I have experienced with and know of God.  Feel free to add your own in as you read.