From Beautiful Offerings – My Story

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My story has always been one of grace and I appreciate everyone of you who has taken the time to visit, read and liked my offerings. As my Annang people would say, Sòsòñò – Thanks to Him, and you as well. This song from the acclaimed contemporary Christian band – Big Daddy Weave, pretty much sums up this year for me. Enjoy!

“My Story” by Big Daddy Weave (Beautiful Offerings – 2015)

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

 

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh! To tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh! To tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh! To tell you my story is to tell….
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh! To tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh! To tell you my story is to tell of Him.

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long.

BIG DADDY WEAVE lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. “My Story” lyrics are provided for educational purposes and personal use. Copyright ©BDW 2015.
Get “My Story” on iTunes – http://smarturl.it/bdwmystory
Image Credit -Pixabay.

The Only Truth Worth Telling.

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“Truth is such a rare thing; it is delightful to tell it.” Emily Dickinson.

This week the San Bernardino shooting made us pause and hunch over for just a moment to dig beneath the shiny objects shoved in our faces. Here in LA, the fame monster has subtly terrorized our psyche and lulled us into a false sense of security. After all, this is the city of Angels and the Kardashians, the Housewives, the Über falsetto, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 tearing down PCH by a guy with prepubescent tendencies flashing a business card promoting ‘Robotic Entertainment.’

Darn it! This is supposed to be the place of dreams, of stars paved into Hollywood Boulevard, a sanctuary city, or as James Frey writes, the city of the “Bright Shiny Morning.” So when something as primal as a couple with a voracious appetite for human blood, fueled by misguided ideologies and armed with automatic rifles and pipe bombs go hunting in an office building, our glamorous sensibilities are jolted.

It reads like a bad commercial on Hulu, an unwelcome interruption. Only this is real. People died. People were wounded. Communities and families are devastated, and a six-month-old boy was left behind before being adequately weaned off his mother’s milk. Now we seek the information like it’s air, and news channels are pumping us full of every detail and nuance. We want to know everything we can about this same couple that we would have ignored if they were shopping in our local Ralphs, probably put off by her hijab or burka.

The solid foundation of God stands, “The Lord knows those who are His.” And we are known for the love we accept and then extend. The truth of love has strayed away from many religions. Profane babbling and messages of hatred spread like rabid cancer, and we have no clue who has been infected. We, as vessels all look the same.

Vessels are made, some for honor and some for dishonor, and we get to chose which we want to be. My prayer is for those who have been deceived to imbibe a religion of death, that “they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having being taken captive to do his will.”*

The Truth: God is love. A powerful God will not condone or inspire the slaughter of innocent people. A true God is not edified by the heartbreak and suffering inflicted by senseless violence and terror. He does not need anyone to kill, nor maim nor hurt us, people He lovingly created in His own image.

God wants us to live and not die. When these perpetrators of violence say, God willing, it is obvious they have confused their hatred with God’s will that “we prosper, be in health even as our souls prosper.” Jesus the Son, the Prince of peace, was crucified to put an end to every form of sacrifice, humans or animals alike. Proverbs 29 reminds us that “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless; the upright seeks another’s wellbeing.”

Anyone who hates his brother or sister in his heart has disobeyed the highest calling of humanity because strife and hatred are twin petri-dishes for every other evil. Love is a commandment, a living truth that’s so beautiful, it should be told and reflected in all we do.
May the God of all comfort, console those who mourn. May those left behind reject any root of bitterness and may we respond to this assault on our city with grace and love.

Image Credit – Pixabay, *2 Timothy 2:26.

 

An Even Better Story

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Credit: Pixabay

I had envisioned telling a very different story this morning but this is the one that unfolded. Today was a particularly windy California morning and I raced home down Balboa Boulevard in my gleaming, silver car anticipating some hot French roast coffee, when from my peripheral vision I caught the sight of what looked like a hunched man, battling the elements. He clutched a threadbare cloak around his thin shoulders. His eyes were squeezed tight and all he had between him and the whirling sandstorm was a weather-beaten red donation receptacle.

Suddenly I couldn’t relax in my warm, toasty home with a clear conscience and pretend I didn’t see a brother out there. While I was so terrified of walking up to the homeless man (Let’s call him Bob), I stilled my nerves and rounded the corner with a cup of coffee, a bag containing a toasted turkey sandwich, a delicious red apple and some loose change, but Bob was gone. Gone! I walked further up the street and scanned every shaded area, it was like the wind had whisked him away.  As I walked back home dejected, my story flipped.

If Bob was gone, was there anyone else who could use a hot breakfast? I scanned the alleys, then behind the liquor store at the crossroad and found no-one. None. How many mornings have I driven down this road and not spared a thought for anyone but myself (The drum major instinct). I wondered, is this how God feels holding out gifts, looking out for us, wanting to bless our socks off but we are too selfish, distracted or too busy wandering aimlessly, that we miss His outstretched hands.

We are all servants of humanity, blessed to turn around and be a blessing.  When we actively and purposefully receive all God has for us, we can truly help each other. Every act of kindness becomes part of our history and our family stories.They remind us that miracles are still possible, that there is still so much love to share because God first loved us. Those are stories I want to tell.

It’s crazy faith to expect good from unexpected places, to hope that the next moment could hold the very answers we seek, to look for the good in everything, even the mundane and imperfect.(This reminds me of Brené Brown’s, Gift of Imperfections.) I wish I had met Bob, that would have been a great story, maybe the start of something extraordinary or… not.

Still Bob would have known that he opened my eyes today and made me a better person. They say, you don’t have a story to tell, till you’ve been through something. Here’s to all the downtrodden and lost – no matter what life hurls at you, remember that you are infinitely worthy and your stories anchor our souls.

 

 

Facing December

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Hello December, bring it on! This should be my favorite time of the year – after all there’s great anticipation almost every week – my birthday, Christmas, and a brand new year hovering on the horizon, but this month feels like it’s fixing to beat the crap out of me. Like me, for many of you, this is a tough month. We have to deal with the pressure of performance, expectations, lost loved ones, being far away from home and sagging under the weight of the entire year resting on our shoulders.

The truth be told. Lately, I haven’t been a first-rate version of myself but instead of wallowing in self-pity and rehashing the  disappointments for the goals that slipped through the cracks of  poor-timing, paralyzing fear and just plain, unflavored indolence, I’m going to love myself a little more this month, just because my hypothalamus still works. It secreted enough acetylcholine to wake me up and boy – where there’s life, there’s hope!
I am facing this December head on.

Every morning this month, before self-damning thoughts assail my brain, I’m adopting the life-changing mirror ritual by Dr. Christiane Northrup – I’ll be kind to my soul.

I’ll reach out with understanding to my broken heart over the dreams that crashed and burned this year. I’ll pat my laugh lines and double chin tenderly, smooth over my crow’s feet and the furrows on my brow. When my eyes mist over, I’ll remember there’s a still river inside me and let it overflow its bounds. I will stand in awe of all God created in me. Then I will whisper, so only I can hear, “I love you.” over and over again. Till I believe with all my heart and mind and soul, that this gimper staring back at me will be okay.

Happy Days Ahead!

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=57402

Lessons from Playing Monopoly – When the Game is Over

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A few weeks ago, I spent an entire Sunday afternoon playing monopoly with my son and before he rolled the dice, I said, “Honey, remember  you are already valuable, it’s not what you have that determines your worth. Ok? ”

Well, I could have saved my breath because he was completely and irrationally obsessed with acquiring every property his bronze, horse token landed on. If he could buy the jailhouse, he would have. The thrill of acquisition dissipated when his cash reserves ran low and he needed to liquidate properties, houses and hotels to pay rent, bank levies or taxes. Sean, still without guile at thirteen, started bending the rules and kept eyeing the bank vault, trying to keep his game afloat. My strategy was simple – service versus greed. So I set my targets on utilities, railroads and a few choice properties .

In life, we are valuable because God loves us, even before we were born. Our performance or accumulation of things like badges of status will not endear us to Him. His love is sure and does not waver.

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A life that has meaning does not hold on to riches and its inherent lie that money defines us. There are no tight fists in the casket. People with the intentional posture of opens hands believe in generosity and are channels of God’s goodness and love. Anything you own turns around and possesses you right back. Imagine the aggravation from every dent in your brand new car or the shattered screen of your new iPhone, your obsession with your home security etc.  I agree with Al Watt from  LA Writer’s Lab, “…hold your (story) elements loosely.”

“You have to ask yourself: When you finally get the ultimate possession, when you’ve made the ultimate purchase,when you buy the ultimate home, when you have stored up financial security and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb it, and the thrill wears off–and it will wear off–then what?” — John Ortberg

A modified version of a story I heard at a church service goes like this  – A grandson (Pastor John Ortberg) finally beat his grandma at monopoly one weekend after summer vacation and she lauded him,

“I see you’ve finally learnt that this game is requires a 100% commitment to acquisition.”
“Took me a whole summer, but well worth it!” He said, gloating in victory.
“Now you are ready to learn a second lesson – everything goes back into the box.”

Life is a game that ends at some point and player after player – the truck driver asleep at the wheel, a business mogul in a plane crash, a young model with a life of glamor in her sights shot by a jealous boyfriend, a dictator beheaded by rebels (all pretty grim huh?), a grandfather passing away in his sleep… we all go by way of the box, so why stress over stuff?

As King Solomon wisely said, ” All this is vanity…I hated all my labor in which I toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? ” (Proverbs 2:18-19 para.)

That’s why we hold things loosely, and love fiercely. When our game is over, we will not leave this planet with a single penny or one solitary thread.
The Beloved Sean and I now recite this declaration by Bobby Schuller (The Shepherd’s Grove):

I’m not what I do
I’m not what I have
I’m not what people say about me
I’m the beloved of God

That’s who I am and no-one can take that from me…

Lord, lead us by love to our authentic selves.