Friday, December 24, 2010

My Favorite Christmas movie of all time!

Frank Capra's, "It's a Wonderful Life" is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I love the movie so much that I will not watch it until Christmas Eve and Christmas day every year so that it doesn't lose its luster. I still remember the first time I watched it as a little girl. We had just had our Christmas family gathering with food, music, and dancing like every Christmas......

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year so the holidays were always special, and I always looked forward to celebrating. One night, after all the festivities I was still awake and flipping through the channels when I found a magical black and white film playing on television. I watched the character of George Bailey run through his town telling everyone how much he loved them and appreciated them. My heart was so glad as I saw the joy in this man's face as he genuinely expressed his appreciation for his life. Ever since that night I make a tradition of watching "It's a Wonderful Life" every Christmas.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that helps to reshape our perspective and offers hope. If you've ever felt like a failure because things haven't turned out too well in your life, or you were disappointed by something or someone, you may feel tempted to give up. George Bailey wanted to die after losing all his money and facing possible jail time. He felt like a failure and tried to end his own life until an angel named Clarence showed him what his world would look like if he were never born. George Bailey learns that he did in fact make an impact. He also learned that although his life didn't turn out the way he wanted it to, it was still significant and he was loved. He mattered.

I didn't understand the story when I was a little girl, but it sure became reality for me last year after life handed me much pain and disappointment. This year, as I'm still in recovery, I will enjoy "It's a Wonderful Life" once again for its charm, warmth, and for the smile it always brings to my face.....regardless of my situation.

If you've never watched this film, please do so. Whether you love it or hate it you will walk away feeling something because there's a message in it for everyone.


"Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."
-Clarence

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Send a holiday letter to a soldier!

The American Red Cross is accepting letters that will be given to our soldiers this Christmas. Send a letter to encourage our brave heroes who risk their lives daily for our freedom. Christmas is especially difficult for them and their families. Let's put a smile on their face this Christmas. : )

The deadline to send mail is December 10th.

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD
20791-5456

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who Says?

It’s rare the times that I'll learn something from a commercial. Sure those “Columbia House” commercials back in the day made me cry. And yes, I’m still very moved by those sentimental Hallmark card commercials they play during Christmas. And we mustn’t forget the old ‘Folgers” commercial where the son returns from war and his mother embraces him with such love to cause a grown man to cry like a baby. Yes, commercials can have an emotional factor to them. But recently, a simple statement in a birth control commercial sort of empowered me.

You know that commercial that tells women that they don’t have to have their period every month? In the commercial the women look at the camera and say, “Who says you have to have your period every month?” And yes, it may seem silly to be motivated or to learn something profound from a contraceptive commercial, but the simple words, “Who says…” really affirmed the season that I am in at the moment.

I am living in a season where I am questioning some of the things that I thought to be law, things that we all seem to accept. For example, who says that I can’t be strong and yet feminine at the same time? Pink is still my favorite color. : ) Who says that I can’t question aspects of my faith that I don’t understand? Who says that I shouldn’t take chances?

It’s amazing how many things in life we accept just because we think we should. It’s almost like there’s this invisible rulebook or checklist we’re supposed to live and abide by. Who says I’m supposed to follow? I’d rather take a chance in life and pursue what I believe is right than just follow and accept something just because everyone else does.

There are so many choices and mindsets in my life that I have recently learned were influenced by the words in that boring rule book. I’m learning that it’s okay to be me and to have the desires that I have. Just because someone is well liked by everyone else doesn’t mean that I have to like him or her too. And just because a certain path or formula worked in someone’s life doesn’t mean it will work in mine. I’m learning not to feel bad when the corporate world shuts another door in my face. I don’t feel we’re compatible anyway.

The truth is we are all in a different path, learning different things in different ways. What I am called to is not necessarily what the next person should pursue. It’s amazing the transformation that can take place in one’s life when the rug has been pulled from under them repeatedly. Or when they’ve tried “everything” the voices have suggested and still the doors stay stubbornly shut.

Who says I have to think, feel, and be what the rulebook says I should? I’m on my own journey. In the words of “Popeye,” “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When I am sad

I really believe that God likes it when I'm sad. Is that a strange statement? Well, I really believe it....at least today.

When I am sad I write profound poems, personal essays, and song lyrics.

When I am sad I think about the hurting and the voiceless in the world and how I'd like to end their suffering.

When I am hurting I seem to gain enough wisdom to light a candle on somebody else's darkness.

I offer them words, they applaud my wisdom, and then I re-enter my dungeon of introspection.

When I have a "dark night of the soul" my creativity grows and I find that I'm taken to deep places that I never knew existed inside of me.

Sometimes I am moved to tears, other times I am inspired. Sometimes they work together.

I don't say this in arrogance or pride. In face there are days that I would give anything to be shallow.

I wish that my greatest concern was not having the right top to match my pants.

But, in my life pain is real. And when it hits it's strong enough to cause me to lose hope for moments at a time.

But then, I rise up off the floor and I open my notebook or laptop and write once again. I'm a "survivor" as some would say.

My pain inspires me, and apparently this is what God uses.

Sometimes I wish that I didn't survive and that God would be moved to the point that He removed it all.

But, then I think that in some weird psychotic way I would miss it all.

Because for whatever strange reason pain and happiness walk hand in hand in my heart and mind. I don't know that I'd be the same person without them.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." -Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

"Dear God,

I heard that there is a reward for this, but I'm still waiting for my consolation prize....Can you bring it before I get to heaven?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wax-On, Wax-Off: Learning Lessons Through the Ordinary

The Karate Kid has always been one of my favorite movies from the 80's. Maybe it’s because we watched it every other day, or the fact that my brother resembled Ralph Macchio. Watching The Karate Kid became as much a ritual as brushing my teeth and playing with my Barbie dolls.

When I became a Christian, this classic 80’s movie became a symbolism for something far greater than warm fuzzy memories. It became a sort of metaphor for my relationship with God. I can’t help but think that the relationship between Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi is very similar to our own relationship and walk with God.

We don’t always understand what God is doing. Most of the time we’re questioning what everything means. In my own life I have had to ask God to help me see what He sees because I just simply don’t understand.

In the movie, as Daniel is venting to Mr. Miyagi about feeling used, he tells Mr. Miyago that he’s in pain for all the work he’s had to do for him. He feels that he has wasted all his time when he could’ve actually been learning karate. Mr. Miyagi’s response: “Not everything is as seems.”

Mr. Miyagi then asks him to show him "sand the floor," “wax-on, wax-off,” “paint the fence,” and all the other chores Daniel was responsisble for. Mr. Miyagi goes on to show the very confused and frustrated Daniel how one thing related to the other. Daniel was then able to see how all the meaningless tasks he had done actually related to karate. His eyes were opened up to the realization that he was learning, but not in the way that he expected.

Brother Lawrence, author of the popular book, “Practicing the Presence of God,” learned life’s lessons while washing dishes in a kitchen. Jesus taught his disciples lessons and principles through fishing and even reached a Samaritan woman by relating to her through thirst. Why does God use the ordinary to reach us? Because he wants to relate to us, he wants to speak our language.

So, the next time you're confused about your life and what God may or may not be doing, why not ask Him to help you see what He sees? You may even get a revelation like Daniel did.

The Karate Kid starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Honor


I read a story once about how Mother Theresa found the body of a man who had died of hunger in an impoverished country. She lay hands on the man and prayed for him. When asked why she bothered to pray for a dead man she said she didn’t want him to be overlooked or forgotten. According to Mother Theresa, every life is precious in life and in death.

What a beautiful image. Everyone deserves honor. Whether you’re the weary soldier who has just returned from the battlefield, the battered woman who has taken a second chance at love, or the janitor who sweeps the floors and wipes the toilets. No man should ever be overlooked.

After the terrible tragedy of hurricane Katrina, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” dedicated an entire show on the aftermath of the disaster. Dr. Oz, a frequent guest on the show who currently has his own program, walked the streets of New Orleans providing medical care to the wounded and dying. As he walked the streets of New Orleans he caught site of the body of a woman lying on the side of a road and he said, “This is someone’s daughter. Somebody gave birth to this person.” He then proceeded to cover the forgotten corpse.

We live in a world of injustice where countless faces die everyday. It may be the prostitute beaten and killed by a client, the child sold into sexual slavery, or the lonely old man in the nursing home whose family has neglected him. No matter who we are, human beings deserve honor. We all have a name and a purpose. We have importance and value.

Have you ever felt over-looked and unacknowledged? May you receive the honor you deserve not only in death but also in life. After all, we’re only given one chance to live.

“Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.” -Arthur Schopenhauer

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Living life as a "Receiver"



I went to a wonderful service at church last night where a very wise woman spoke about the importance of receiving what God has to give us. I have been practicing this in private. For days I’ve been playing my favorite worship songs and seeking God. I’ve felt him appear and speak to me. Now, please don’t think I’m crazy. I’m a very sane and intelligent woman. But a recent encounter with God in my bedroom overwhelmed me. I literally felt like the spirit of God walked through me and filled all of my insides with his power. I felt encircled by his greatness.

Last night I had a similar experience. I took in every word this woman spoke. She talked about how hard it is for us to receive blessings at times and encouraged us to receive all that God had to give us. She explained that she felt God was telling her that it was a time to receive more of him. Then, she began to call people out of the audience to pray over them. She pointed at me and said, “You, come over here.” I walked up to her and she said to me, “Put your arms up I’m laying hands on you… you’re already in the river.” I fell back onto the floor and surrendered to the presence of God. I lay there for a while soaking in the presence of God receiving all the words that I felt He was speaking to me. I’ll share more of that in another post.

About an hour later, I was at home contemplating on the events of the night while preparing a snack in the kitchen. That’s when I remembered the book that I’m reading. One of my all time favorite books is called, The Giver, which was written by popular children’s author, Lois Lowry. I read it in the 5th grade and fell in love with it. A week or so ago I felt the urge to re-read this book again.

The book is about a boy who lives in a Utopian community where everything is the same, every family unit has a son and daughter, and there is no pain or color. “The Committee” that predetermines the fate and destiny of its occupants controls everything. What always impressed me about the story was the main character Jonas. He’s a 12-year-old boy that receives a special assignment from the community in the “Ceremony of Twelves.” He is given the task of being “The Receiver.”

"The Receiver" is to meet with “The Giver” to receive whatever is to be imparted to him. Little does Jonas know that “The Giver” will show him the reality of what life used to be before the committee controlled everything. Jonas’ eyes and mind are opened up to love, desire, and the taste of an apple, the feelings of sexuality, and pain. He is to receive this knowledge from “The Giver” but cannot share it with anyone else because it could hurt the community.

The reason I always loved this book was because as a kid I often felt like I was introduced to a lot of information that was at times too great for me to comprehend. And like Jonas I had to hold it all inside. For whatever reason I felt the urge to re-read this book a week ago. But God is a God of details and I know that he often uses coincidences to prove his point. As I contemplated on the book last night I smiled, as I understood that I too am in a season of receiving. And like last night and a few nights ago in my bedroom, my arms are continually open to receive what THE GIVER would want to impart on me. Even when it’s painful…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Exiting Egypt


I once read a story about a man in Germany who had been in prison for fifty years. After his term was completed he was set to be released. Instead of leaving prison he decided to stay in his cell. The guards tried to convince the man to leave his cell and enjoy his freedom, but the prisoner refused.

How many times do we continue to stay in our own prisons even after being set free? For some of us prison could mean an old mindset, an unhealthy relationship, or a bad habit.

I'm currently living in one of the most gorgeous cities in America, Colorado Springs. The scenery is beautiful with unrealistic mountains that often make me feel like I'm living in a painting. I am often in awe and wonder and I can't believe that I am fortunate enough to call such a beautiful place my home.

But even though the mountains are breathtaking and I see beautiful deer in my backyard on a weekly basis, it took me some time to really enjoy and take in the beauty of my surroundings. When I first arrived in Colorado Springs I was apprehensive. I had been so discouraged in the last few years of my life that I couldn't possibly fathom the idea that I would live in a place of such beauty. And even though my surroundings were beautiful my approach was a cautious one. I was so afraid of being disappointed again that I wasn't enjoying the place that I was in.

The Bible tells the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years. Although they had been freed from their bondage, their mentality was still in captivity. They literally had to change their thought processes in order to exit Egypt and enter into the Promised Land.

I have recently made the decision (and yes it is often a decision) to start believing that life can be fruitful again. Although my life was filled with much disappointment in the last few years, it doesn't mean that my future will also be. Yes, I did lose a house that I loved two years ago, and had to say goodbye to dear friends, but it doesn't mean that history will repeat itself. I have to learn from the mistakes of the past and accept the losses. I have to daily make a choice to keep my eyes set on the future and what's before me.

I have to believe that the future will be as bright as Pikes Peaks and that my dreams will surpass my highest expectations. I must keep my vision focused and high enough to reach the mountains before me. Life will be great.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Embracing the wind

Have you ever tried to hold on to your belongings when the wind is blowing hard? Whether you're at the beach trying to hold on to your straw hat or you're desperately clinging on to your umbrella on a cold rainy, windy day. Holding on when the wind seems stronger than your footing on the ground is tough and almost impossible.

I have felt this way in life. Circumstances blew away things that I was certain about. Even the things I thought I would always have a firm grip on. But life is like that. The more you live, the more you learn you really don't have control of everything. And many times when we let go we don't always get the things we surrendered back. Sometimes we do.

I recently met a strong godly woman who encouraged me to start pursuing the things that I shelved for a season of my life. She asked me to start dancing and singing again. You see, I stopped doing these things because life was tough. I stopped dreaming and I completely surrendered my life to the raging and often overwhelming winds. But now, I'm embracing the wind and asking for my dreams back. I'm asking for my life back.

This time around the wind seems gentler than before. And it's breeze is starting to feel kind of nice on my face.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I hate the words, "Let go"



There are two words that I have come to detest more than any other words. “Let go.” I hate those words!

It seems the last four years of my life have been filled with those two detestable words. I have come to understand that if I really love or want something that I must “let it go” or release. Some of the things I’ve released have come back to me, and some haven’t. I don’t like letting go. It is easier for me to give money to a charity or to tithe at church than it is for me to give up something that I own. Maybe this is selfish but it’s honest. And letting go hasn’t just been a matter of releasing things.

I’ve had to release my life, dreams, and future to a destiny I have often been unfamiliar with. What else do you do when everything you hoped for and dreamed about as a little girl turns out the opposite? Sure, life doesn’t usually turn out exactly the way we think it will but for most it’s at least functional and bears some similarity to what you dreamed up in your mind. Not my life. I’ve been utterly surprised. For me it seems that destiny took over and painted a different picture. Life is looking nothing like I’d every predicted it to.

My life in the last few years has felt like sand running through my hands. As much as I tried to hold it tight things just seemed to slide through the cracks and before I knew it, it had slipped away. In the last five years, I have had to release just about everything in my possession, my marriage when it was shaky, the home I loved in TN, the friends I made on the journey, the promise of two great in-laws (hubby’s dad passed away in 2006), and there are so many more things that could make up a memoir that could end up on Oprah’s book club. Now, that’s an idea!

Just a day ago I had to “let go” again. This time I had to say goodbye to my German Shepherd dog. He’s just a dog people have said but to me he was more than that. He was a companion. He was my friend.

Basko was there during the shaky times in my marriage where I could feel my heart breaking within me. Basko was there during unemployment when my husband and I had to go to the local pantry to make sure we had food for the week. Basko was there when a terrible argument over finances reduced me to tears. He’d sit next to me with his back arched straight up as he always did as if standing guard next to me protecting me from breaking. Maybe it’s all in my imagination? Maybe I’m dreaming it all up. Maybe he is just a dog who will forget me in a matter of weeks. But I can’t help missing him. I can’t help feeling that my dog, who belonged to me not long ago will be someone else’s; that years from now he won’t even remember who I am.

Right now I’m crying and mourning his loss. Because even if he was just a dog he was there when I needed him. I’m praying this is the last time in a long time that I will have to “let go” of something that I love because my heart just couldn’t bear another surrender.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's the issue with prayer?

Since when did prayer become an offense? It seems that everyone is bothered with the idea of prayer these days.

When someone dies it is so easy to say, “Your family is in my thoughts and prayers,” “My prayers are with you,” or “I’m praying for you,” but many times fail to do it. Aren’t we then liars for stating we’ll pray for someone when the majority of us seem to be against the idea of prayer in the first place?

Years ago, when Paris Hilton was serving prison time for whatever she did, “The Hollywood Prayer Network” got ripped apart on CNN for stating that they were praying for Ms. Hilton.
Ironically, around that time I was working at The Christian Broadcast Network as a Partner Service Representative, receiving donations for the ministry and praying on the phone with callers. I had a woman call in asking me to pray for Paris Hilton.

My first thought was, “C’mon give me a break.” But then after pausing a few seconds I thought to myself, “She is one of God’s children after all.” Is it really my job (or anyone else’s) to decide who’s worthy of prayer? After thinking a few judgmental thoughts I eventually joined this stranger in praying for Paris Hilton.

This note wasn’t written to dispute whether one should pray for a celebrity like Hilton. What I’m trying to state is that if someone chooses to pray for another we should honor that choice and celebrate them for caring enough to pray. And why should praying for a celebrity or anyone for that matter be such a point of contention? Shouldn’t we be applauding the person who takes the time to pray for another? Usually Christians get accused of being judgmental (which many are). But there are plenty of good kind-hearted Christians out there who have the compassion to set aside time to pray for people whether they’re a reality star, actor, singer, or just the single mom down the street.

Franklin Graham is getting a whole lot of slack and humiliation for trying to lead a “National Day of Prayer,” which it seems to me we desperately need. Why is it such a major issue now? According to Graham, America needs prayer more than ever. "At a time when our country is waging two wars, approval ratings for Congress are at historic lows, unemployment is at a 70-year high and financial institutions have collapsed around us, I can't imagine anyone seriously opposing a National Day of Prayer," he said.

What is wrong with our country? It’s not like Mr. Graham’s going to protest at somebody’s funeral like that church in Topeka, KS we hear too much about. The man is simply calling the nation to pray! I’m sure there are many in other religions praying for America. What’s so wrong with someone calling on others to dedicate a day to the very thing many of us promise to do but may never follow through with?

Who’s the bigger hypocrite? The man who actually prays, or those who say they will but don't follow through with it?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ghandhi and Christianity


Mahatma Ghandhi, undoubtedly one of the wisest and most peaceful leaders to walk the planet once said, “I would have become a Christian if it weren’t for Christians.”

Although I agree to a point that some Christians can deter others from following the faith I have to say that this mindset has become a bit of a crutch for many.

Yes, there are a lot of Christians who suck. There are also many who call themselves "Christians" and attach bible verses to their hateful agendas (think of that little church in Topeka, Kansas...). Although many Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, and legalistic should we allow those who give Christianity a bad name determine our personal belief?

There are a lot of mean people in the world, but I’m still going to be a part of society. There are a lot stupid people on social media circuits but I’m not closing my Facebook account. Life is unfair and unpredictable at times but I’m still here. Get my drift? I refuse to let other believer's decisions define or determine my own faith.

Ms. L

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

He looks at the heart

God: You see a sleazy prostitute, I see a woman who was abused as a child in search of love and acceptance.

You see a druggie on the street, I see a young man who’s father was an alcoholic leading him to a life on the streets in search of a family.

You see a stupid pregnant teenager who didn’t use protection. I see a little girl who’s parents neglected her and so she felt having a baby would help her feel loved.

God looks at the heart. Maybe we should too.

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
-1 Samuel 16:7


Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Even God Weeps

What if the pain you were experiencing was so great that even God wept, that even the angels bowed their heads in silence.

Did God weep during the holocaust when millions of European-Jews were beaten, starved and burned alive because of their race?

Did God weep when the terrorist attack on 911 took the lives of thousands and later brought upon a war that took thousands more?

Did God weep when the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia drowned his children, leaving millions homeless and thousands of children orphaned?

Did God weep when Haiti was struck by one of the worst Earthquakes ever documented? Did God not weep when mothers clung to their babies and many died under crushed under rubble?

If God never weeps or hurts with us then He wouldn’t be love. Sometimes when I’m broken I can almost hear heaven sigh. Sometimes I feel closest to God when I’m hurting.

If Jesus wept for Lazarus after his death and was often moved with compassion by the hurt and suffering of others while on earth then He is surely still weeping today.

Jesus wept. One of the greatest verses in the Bible.