Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 13: Awesome is an Art Form

One thing I want to do before I die is go to an opera at the Met.  I want to be overwhelmed with the music, swept up into the narrative, cracked wide open and exhale only the collective emotion so cathartic it cleanses what’s pent up inside. 
Anna Netrebko, Anna Bolena, The Met 2011 [go here for tickets]

Or stand in the tiny Sistine Chapel, and marvel, breathless at decades of exacting toil, which was merely meant as wallpaper.  Or sit in the Royal Albert Hall and openly weep as a lifetime’s opus is delicately offered by expert hands.  Spend weeks in the Louvre, get positively lost in the Guggenheim.  Troll ancient libraries, breathing in the intellect laid bare on withered pages.  Wonder at codex’s so timeworn, were the glass not protecting them from my breath, they would but crumble to dust.  Ache to touch silks and porcelains so thin and antique, their productions almost incomprehensible to me.  To revel in a lost world of creative genius, crying out to something greater, something more worthy and important and vast, than my fleeting existence. 
Art is not just something old, something other people have deemed beautiful.  Art is… art is beauty, indefinable.  Art reminds me that I possess beauty.  I am a poem, written by the greatest Author to ever exist.  I am a work of art, in a world of beauty; a world that would not be complete without me in it.  Right here.  Right now. 
So today, though I’m not touring the Hermitage or Ufizzi or MoMA, nor listening to the Royal Philharmonic; I am looking at the little bits of art all around me.  I am seeing in my world tiny pieces of beauty.  And I remember that I am a beautiful work of art, by the Master Creator

These words, which are not mine, inspire me today:         

I think everything in life is art.   what you do.  how you dress.  the way you love someone, and how you talk.  your smile and your personality.  what you believe in and all your dreams.  the way you drink your tea.  how you decorate your home.  your grocery list.  the food you make.  how your writing looks.  and the way you feel. 
life is art. 

Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 12: Too Much

It’s there, carefully seated somewhere among declensions and substantival positioning, under 15 unfolded loads of laundry and 2 days of dirty dishes, hiding behind worthy arguments that rote out lies, crouching beneath the desire for more time.  This truth, that while at times the awesome can be so loud its roars rouse you in the morning, most days it is merely a soft, murmur curling inside your chest, reminding you that you are more than the sum of your circumstances.  Or the consistent failing to be master of your surroundings.

Too many things to do, most done in distraction.  Books to read, words to memorize, floors to clean, clothes (always clothes) to wash, lunches to pack, conversations that need to be had, art projects that demand looking at, hands that need holding, and hugs that need doling out.  Too many moments slip by, without notice because there is simply too much.  It’s all too much.  And there’s never enough time to do them in, nor enough time to do them all well.  At times it feels insurmountable.  It is certainly something that can cause the awesome to feel less, to dim in my eyes.    
But there comes a point when the awesome has to admit that some things are going to have to be left undone.  At least in the here and now.  This is not a failing.  It is not a waste.  It is the trappings of a material life lived in finite quantity.  Eternity will one day (or non-day, depending on how you look at it), stretch out it’s vastness before you, with untold stores of time in which to experience perfection.  There will be more time.
Until then, I will allow myself grace.  The unfolded laundry and dirty dishes don’t diminish my awesome.  I am still, at my core, me.  My blatant trouble with Koine cannot define who I am.  I will attend to the things that are important: studies, the laughter and snuggles of my children, the voice of my husband, the nearness of my friends, but most importantly, the presence of my God.    
And I await the day (or non) when my awesome has the time and space to unfurl, to stretch out into eternity and breathe in the vast expanse of it all.     

Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 11: Anchored Motion

HE went on:
What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immortality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
 ~Mark 7:20-23
The awesome is not arrogance, a self-subsisting egomaniacal way of living that allows for no outside influence. While it should not bend to the wind of criticism, nor shudder in the storms of falsity, it should reach evermore toward the light, stretching out of the shadows and into life filtered through rays of golden promise.  It should warm, sustain, grow.    

The awesome is both anchored and fluid.  Immovable when rooted in truth; yet constantly in motion, a river sliding through cruel wilderness, adjusting course in relation to the landscape, increasing as it moves toward journey’s end, to be welcomed home into the vast ocean. 
Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mark 7:14-15 resounding in my ears today:  
Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them.  Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.

What is defiling me?  What is marring my awesome?  Lord, help me to buff away the tarnish that has dulled my shine.  I want so much to reflect your brilliance in the eyes of those who behold me, so they may always see your handiwork in me.  Let me be pliable in your hands, as you smooth away the course edges of me, revealing even more of your design in my awesome. 
Within the context of Jesus’ words, and the continuing conversation of reclaiming awesome, Ann Voskamp spoke truth into my awesome today.  Because my awesome is pliable in the Master’s hands (Lord, may it ever be so!).  Recognizing that in my awesome resides my happiness, my joy, I will defer today to Mrs. Voskamp, her question penetrating my awesome with quiet instruction:           
Why do I allow creeping annoyance sabotage my own happiness? Is anything worth sacrificing joy?[1]

Lord, help me not to sacrifice my awesome, my joy.  Let my stave off the creeping annoyances of daily living and the imperfection of this fallen world.  Let my eyes seek you when I doubt, when I crave undefiled awesome.  And help me to always hear, let my awesome move through the undulating paces of life, being changeable, to be made even more beautiful in the journey, rooted in your truth.    

Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :

[1]A Holy Experience, 9/26/2011 “How to walk through life (and growing pains)” by Ann Voskamp  full article here

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 10: These are a few of my Favorite Things

Recently, in a conversation about art, a professor referenced Ecclesiastes, saying, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.”[1]  Granted, this is not to be taken out of context, assuming that everything one does is appropriate and approved by God.  Instead, it is a call to enjoy life; enjoy what God has placed in our lives.  And to be thankful for these, recognizing from whence these delights come.  Art, music, dancing, literature, nature, conversation, coffee, delectable food, palatable drink; feel the emotions roused by these experiences, revel in the shared experiences these forums allow.  Life live.

And just as each one of us is unique in our design, calling, and gifting, so we are in our recreation.  My husband’s a runner; I swim.  I cannot stand running; I think it’s reserved for the “flight” segment of survival.  Yet, I could live in the water, if permitted.  My best friend loves pink; I would drape everything in black if allowed [verify this with my Mom, as a teen-ager, I begged to paint my walls black.  As a homeowner, I can now fully understand her resounding, “NO!”].
Recall whatever it is that moves you.  What draws out your “you”?  What brings a smile to your lips, when you’re so tired you can’t move?  What gets you excited, when you can hardly remember your own name?  So long as it’s not counter to God’s design (and you know what I mean), that’s an intragal part of your awesome.  It may not sit well with others.  It may be labeled as “nerdy” or “lame” or “predictable” by others.  But you know what?  You’re not here to worry about their opinions.  You’re here to re-ignite your awesome. 

Make a list, remember what you love.  Not what your significant other loves.  Not what your friends love.  Not even what you’ve been conditioned to love.  What do you love?  Once you’ve got your list, find ways to engage in the activities you have listed.  Do more of the things you love, not giving your life over to them; but do them with the intent to enjoy your time here, and to delight in the gifts given to you by your Heavenly Father. 

And just for a peak at my list, here’s a place I’d love to go (from a blog I love to visit:

Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :


[1] This conversation was regarding Pascal’s take on diversion, and the application in modern culture. And while diversion is still a driving motivator for most of our pastimes, this professor, along with others stunning minds, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, feels that not to escape our world, at times, in search of beauty, would be madness. The passage referenced is Ecclesiastes 9:7, though it should not be read without the context of the entire book, particularly the final chapter: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” [v. 13]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 9: The Little Things

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Psalm 147:4
Today it is more difficult to write than I anticipated.  My heart is heavy, struggling for a response to the executions, in separate states, of two death-row inmates.  One garnered national attention, prayer, and protest.  One did not.  Two victims, whose names are now footnotes in our modern history; their memories’ resigned to waiting in the wings of controversy.  Four families, two suffering for decades and two just beginning their descent therein, marred and changed forever.    

It is hard to think that in light of this, my little hurts and concerns are of any consequence to God.  There are days, when all the world’s suffering is too overwhelming, and I feel like my petty needs are nothing more than a lost button, an insignificant part of the pocket lint on God’s nightstand.  However, this is not truth.  God is intimately concerned with each and every individual person He has created.  Jesus illuminates this truth for His disciples in Matthew 10:28-31:
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.   Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
God has concern even for lower members of His creation: sparrows, which in1st century Jerusalem were sold two for a penny.  But Jesus tells us that God numbers the hairs on each person’s head.  Every individual hair.  How much more does He care about my heart, my spirit, than my hair? 
If God knows each and every star in the sky, of which our estimation is daily increasing, and calls each one by name, how much more important are the concerns of my heart to Him? 
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 ~ Psalm 37:4
As His beloved child, He is concerned about what concerns me.  He is also concerned for every heart He has ever made, or has yet to make.  Every person, in every situation.   There is nothing too small or too big for God.  Bring your concerns to Him; lay your troubles, your triumphs, your fears or heartbreaks at His feet.  Let Him determine their worth.  Let Him define yours.  Therein, lives the awesome. 
Psalm 147
 1 Praise the LORD.
   How good it is to sing praises to our God,
   how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
   and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
   and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
   his understanding has no limit.
6 The LORD sustains the humble
   but casts the wicked to the ground.
 7 Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
   make music to our God on the harp.
 8 He covers the sky with clouds;
   he supplies the earth with rain
   and makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He provides food for the cattle
   and for the young ravens when they call.
 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the LORD delights in those who fear him,
   who put their hope in his unfailing love.
 12 Extol the LORD, Jerusalem;
   praise your God, Zion.
 13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
   and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
   and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
 15 He sends his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
   and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
   Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
   he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
 19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
   his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
   they do not know his laws.
   Praise the LORD.

Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 8: The Line in the Sand

There is no question: my awesome has an enemy.  And this enemy is wise, with eons of knowledge to draw from.  This enemy is strategic, going after only what matters most.  This enemy is tactical, using the most effective weapons against my awesome.  This enemy is subtle and deceptive, impersonating truth and normalcy.  But most importantly, this enemy is:
I am a child of the King of kings, co-heir with Christ, and beloved by God.  Therefore, my awesome’s enemy may not touch me.  Yes, this enemy may use all the means at his disposal (the media, words of loved ones/mentors/pastors, etc…) and this enemy will lie, steal, and masquerade as truth and light to get me to lay down my awesome.  But, I have to agree to it.  I have to allow him to deceive me.  I have to hand over my awesome.  I have to hang my head and say, “you’re right, I am not awesome.”

Today, I am saying, nay screaming, “No More!”  I am picking up my sword and drawing a line in the sand.  I know who I am and by whom I am loved. 
I will not hand over my heritage, my awesome, anymore.  I will no longer cower under the barrage of twisted truths, portrayed in the media.  I will no longer chain myself to warped ideals, erroneously espoused by those who should know better, but don’t.  I will no more agree with the lies about me or my awesome, on the lips from whom it hurts most.  I do not care whence they stem or whither they lead. 
I take this stand, on behalf of my awesome, on the Rock who calls Himself Truth.  I stand under His banner, beloved and cherished.  Warrior daughter, ready to battle for my awesome, my birthright.  But this is a fight that has already been won.  Kneeling at the feet of Christ, I claim victory over this enemy, in His name.        
And that, is awesome!

**Check out the photographer’s website here:  She’s amazing!
Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 7: Heirlooms

It’s right there, in the beginning:
Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…’   
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
~Genesis 1:26 [part]-27
Right there, in Genesis, I am told who I am.  Made in His image ~ God’s image.  There is something of Him in me.   He designed it that way.  And it was good.
But just as it was at the very beginning of time, I sinned.  I fell short; I made choices that tarnished my crown and traded my royal birthright for momentary quenching of a fleshly appetite.  We all do.  Every. Single. One.
Like the prodigal son, who squanders his inheritance on fast and loose living.[1]  Or like Esau who traded his birthright as first born for a bowl of soup.[2]  Granted, in his words, Esau was almost starving.  But really, Esau?  Was it worth it?  No.  No more than my gratification of fleshly appetites was worth my inheritance; my place at the King’s table.
In today’s terms, it would be like taking my Great-Grandmother’s ring to the pawn shop; selling the silver tea service on Craig’s list.  All so I could hit the bars, or eat at my favorite restaurant, or spend an entire day at the spa.  Whatever it is that I do, whatever seeming need it meets right then (staying my hunger, helping me feel pampered, or just indulging in a “well deserved” break), it is never worth it. 
And in the sweeping narrative that is the story of my awesome (and yours), then come some of my favorite words: but God. 
But God didn’t want to leave me to my own, self-destructive devices.  But God didn’t want me to continue to trade my awesome (my identity, given to me by Him, even before the foundations of the earth were lain) for pitiful, worldly gains.  But God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.[3] The ransom paid; my inheritance bought back.  My place at the King’s table, won with blood, reestablished.
And it cannot be taken from me.  Not ever again.  I can be told it’s worthless, or that I am not worth it.  I can choose to believe these lies.  But that doesn’t change the truth: that I am:
a child of God
rejoiced over by God
a co-heir with Christ
beloved of God
a friend of God
delighted in by God.
I am worth so much to the Lord, that He bought my life with the blood of His only Son.  He so desires me to know who He created me to be, that Jesus stood silent before His accusers, He endured beatings and mockery; He wore a crown of thorns on my behalf and allowed His hands to be nailed to wooden beams.  He endure separation from His Father, which had never happened before (nor will again) in all of eternity.

...And on the third day, He rose again.  Christ suffered, died, and was buried ~ all true.  But the ultimate crescendo to the opus that is creation and history is this: HE IS RISEN!  And because Christ conquered the grave, because He rose again, I have been given back my inheritance.  My heirlooms are returned to me.  My place at the King's table is once again set just for me.  Christ has defeated my enemy, He has reclaimed what was given to me at the beginning of creation.   
Nonetheless, He paid a mighty price.  It is so great, so steep, so overwhelming, that all the accusations or lies of this world pale to translucence in their pettiness.  They are literally without substance.  The lies that I am not good enough.  That I am not loved, or lovely.  That I am a failure, a charlatan, a weakling, an imbecile, or a viper.  All of these are merely weak attempts by my enemy to convince me to put away my awesome.  To hide it; because he can’t take it from me anymore.  Instead, the world tries to convince me, through every means imaginable, to stop believing in the awesome inside of me.       
But this is my birthright, my inheritance.  I will not trade it any longer. I will not hide it anymore.  I will not doubt the Truth: I am beloved by God.  I am worthy (through Christ) to God.  Through Christ, I am made new.  I have been given strength through the Holy Spirit.  I have access to the wisdom of God.  And I am called by the Shepherd; I am one of His sheep. 
I am HIS.
There is no awesome apart from this.  And it is enough. Oh how sufficient it is; for me, and for you!           

[1] Luke 15:11-32
[2] Genesis 25:28-34
[3] John 3:16-17
[4] John 1:12
[5] Zephaniah 3:17
[6] Romans 8:17
[7] Deuteronomy 33:12, Song of Solomon 6:3
[8] John 15:15
[9] Zephaniah 3:17

Joining us for our 21 Days of Awesome?  Click on the links below to catch up, or refresh your memory :