Love this song. Love this dance. Love this film.
Today is one of my favourite holidays of the American calendar. Thanksgiving. Where all across the country homes are filled with families and sometimes spare friends, eating Turkey and pumpkin pie, watching American football on tv, going for walks after the chemicals in the turkey make you want to enter a food coma of sorts, and lastly sharing things we are thankful for with one another. My first year in Newcastle I got the week wrong and cried the day before thinking I’d missed Thanksgiving. (Hey, in my defense, I had just moved back to the country after a year away, had been here two months and was still culture shocking a bit and missing one of my favourite holidays when I didn’t know if I’d live in America again – it felt a bit traumatic!) My staff team pitched together and threw me a surprise Thanksgiving complete with all the trimmings. It was so special! Since then it has become not just a regular holiday for our team but for all the students involved with us as well.
I often don’t think I practice thankfulness enough so I thought that would be what I would write about today. Here is just a short list of what I am thankful for:
1. That daily I experience God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
2. My family love me enough to keep in touch with me frequently (daily)
3. But also love me enough to support me in what I do and don’t guilt me to move back to the US.
4. My mother has prayed for me every single day I have been alive. I am sure not a day has passed that she hasn’t prayed.
5. I make deep and meaningful friendships wherever I go.
6. I moved to Newcastle fearful I wouldn’t make friends, and countless friends later.. I call Newcastle “my people, my city.” It has been one giant gift of friendships.
7. I can dance. 🙂
8. I don’t need to earn God’s love. Ever.
9. God doesn’t just love me, he likes me.
10. I live near a beautiful park that I can escape to and go for walks in whilst still living in the city.
11. I have the most amazing sister in law and friend ever a girl could ask for. My brother definitely married well. 🙂
12. To be fair, I have the best brother in the world. He is a man I truly respect
13. And he taught me all I know about winning a wrestling match. Today Sean attempted to get me with the squirty cream all evening. When it finally went down.. he was toast. Thank you Mark for wrestling and self defense skills. It pays to have been your wrestling dummy all those years. lol. “Nooooooo not another firemans carry!!!”
14. Two beautiful fun loving nephews.
15. The technology that exists so I can manage a relationship with them at that young of an age across all of these miles. Skype, Vonage, Whatsapp, FaceTime I solute you for keeping my family talking. 🙂
16. That I have learnt the Lord is good even when he allows me to suffer. A lesson I can’t get my head around but amazing still that I know it.
17. I have people who pray for me all over the world. Crazy.
18. I have friends all over the world. Dear close friends in the US, UK, Ireland, Chile, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Canada, Iran… the list could go on..
19. My big messy mass of crazy cousins. I love that we are loud, crazy, multi ethnic, multi cultural, multi lingual, and all have the same big grin. 🙂
20. That though I sometimes feel homeless, I have many places to call home.
21. That though I am yet husbandless, I know deep down Jesus cares about that and understands me, even when I don’t believe it and feel forgotten.
22. Gerber daisies
23. That I can run and play
24. That the Sea is near my city. Love the sea.
25. I have had lots of adventures in my days.
26. That I was able to have a university education.. something many girls in many times would not have been able to have.
27. Because of where I was born, freedom is what I expect in life. That is grace and not a given.
29. Laughing til your sides hurt.
30. That I get to introduce people to life and hope and freedom and forgiveness for my job. Amazing.
31. That God is not done with me.
32. That the lilac scent exists.
33. My bills are paid, my house is (relatively) warm (hey it’s England.. it’ll never be THAT warm! lol).
34. My daddy – hardworking, servant, and one whom I have experienced deeper understandings of grace and the gospel with.
35. Friends in this city who love me, protect me, share life with me, laugh with me, cry with me, dance with me, and pray with me.
36. My best friend coming to see me this weekend –13 years and still going -we are so different but she is a gift to me as a friend.
37. God’s grace is bigger than all my sins.
38. The Holy Spirit is in the business of changing people – and He changes me. (more on that in one of my 30-30 blogs)
39. My wonderful grey leather sofa that I got for free 6 years ago.. lol and all the boys who have helped me move it from house to house over the years. Love this couch. 🙂
40. That “pretty” is an adjective that exists. I love pretty things, pretty people, prettiness.
41. That the gospel makes me free.
42. That the Africans, mixed their music with the Cubans and Dominicans and other South Americans and infused as immigrants in places like NYC and invented what I now call “salsa music” – it just makes me happy to hear those beats. 🙂 Muchas gracias latinos.
43. That I can get a flight home in 8 hours and not a 3 month boat ride like the old days. I am sure I’d be a seasick puppy.
44. The people I work with.. all over the country.. are actually more like a family. Incredible.
45. There is a secret medicine in practicing thankfulness
46. Singing brings me great joy
47. that I’m short (yeah decided I like it after all)
48. That God is a good Father
49. that I have the ability to read
50. That Jesus died and rose again to make me clean
What made you cry?
Come on. You can be honest. You are sitting, possibly alone with your computer, this is a blog asking the questions, you don’t have to tell anyone.
Now, next question. Who could you turn to after you cried? Was there someone who you could talk to about whatever it was?
I cry for many reasons. I have noticed tears are often triggers for an explanation of the deepest people relations, pains, joys, sorrows, anger and experiences in life that tug my heart. In a way, our tears can be a sign of our need of or expression of intimacy. Not the sex kind. The deeper one, the soul kind.
One of our greatest needs as people is to be known. We were created that way.
There will be some people who by definition are “criers” and some who very rarely cry, but what makes us cry and who we can turn to during those times are an interesting gauge of our levels of honest intimacy in life with others. It is a reflection of our ability to empathize, connect, be transparent, and have real people who will be allowed in enough to touch our souls, to be real with, to just be with instead of letting the shame of tears make us withdraw more. What makes us cry says something about us. Who we turn to says something different about us. The second one even more will tell me about someones ability to be known and transparent, how well they have intimate relationships.
I know perfectly well that some of you never cry (I find this baffling and have said to some friends.. “What is wrong with you?” lol. ) You do not need to be a crybaby like me.. but take some personal eval time: what does what you cry about say about you? I bet your tears or lack thereof show something.. about your fears, dreams, passions, joys, and ability to connect with others in intimate relationships where your soul is known and bare.
I had a conversation recently with a good friend and it was about the topic of honesty and intimacy with others. Her question was “How?” On some reflection, I think some of my answers to begin would be the following:
1.) Move towards people. In a real way. Let them know what is actually going on in your life. Choose to. It’s a decision you can make.
2.) Evaluate what your substitutes are for real intimacy. People go to control, food, sex, exercise, drugs, shopping, Facebook, lots of shallow relationships that feel like popularity but are void of real meaning and being known, dancing can be a substitute for me (this was a new revelation tonight), alcohol, busyness (also another of my substitutes). What is your fix? It could be a good thing.. but if you are going to it in the wrong time and place.. then it can own you and ruin your ability to have real intimacy.
3.) What do your tears (or sorrows if you are less of the actual manufacturing of salt and water kinda person) say about what is tugging on your heart? Does nothing? Are you numb? Is there unresolved anger with someone? Lack of forgiveness? A passion that you should pay attention to because it grabs you when you speak? Your pride is taking over your life? Something painful being brought to the surface in need of healing? Pay attention. It may be an area that needs attention, a story needing told, a joy to grab hold of, or something to dig deeper at and allow God to heal.
On Sunday evening I left a dance studio and arrived at church late as I often am to things and just had missed the first song. My church was full already so I made my way up to one of the balconies. Upon arriving, there were some prayers and another song began. Not long after the song’s first chords were played, I began to weep. Not the little kinda teary-eyed-brush-the-single-tear-away-lightly but the kind where I really needed a box of tissues and I was sure my face was a mess. Every lyric of the song pierced my soul over and over. I don’t know you all in blogland and it’s not the place to have real intimacy so you only get a couple snippets of what was going on but each word of the song reminded me of the sweetness and hope of Jesus in what has been a hopeless and sad and angering battle lately. My tears were a signpost of pain, deep deep betrayal and hope and truth all at once. I cried because as much as I have battled God lately, I was being reminded he is my hope, and promise and sureness and I am secure. As alone as I feel sometimes, I am not alone. Despite the hopelessness that some situations feel and wounds that never heal, in a song, I was reminded that there is hope and his name is Jesus.
In an instant. I knew it. I know it. I have known it. Jesus reminded me again Sunday night that he is the anchor and hope and love that is more sure than anything else I know in life. For that reason I wept.
The fight to continue believing the good news of Jesus is real and true in the worst hellishness of life and what will change all the brokenness I have known suddenly came like a rush when these words were being sung. The battle was real and I was a weary soul. I knew as I wept that nevertheless, I was held and every word of that song soaked into my weary heart and was more real than oxygen.. “and the life that I now live, no longer is my own, Jesus lives in me, the hope of glory.”
There is a hope so sure, a promise so secure:
The mystery of God at last made known.
Treasures so vast appear,
All wisdom, knowledge here:
It’s Christ in us, the hope of glory!
And the life that I now live no longer is my own,
Jesus lives in me, the hope of glory.
And each day I live no longer is my own,
Jesus lives in me, the hope of glory.
There is a life so true, a life of love so pure,
For all our sin a perfect sacrifice.
And when that life was nailed,
On cruel cross impaled,
our sinful flesh with him was crucified.
There is a life so strong, that a whole world of wrong,
And all the powers of hell could not defeat.
For Jesus rose again,
And if we died with him,
With him we’ll rise to share his endless life.
This was an actual conversation I had this weekend:
Guy: Hey I have seen you at my gym!! Do you go to ______?
Me: Yes I do. Hi, what’s your name? I’m ___.
Guy: Are you single? Can I have your number?
Me: Um yes I am.. and Um, I am not sure.
Guy: Give me your number.
Me: I’ll think about it.
Guy: Whyyyy?! Please can I have your number? What if I give you my number? Then you give me yours. I want to take you out.
Me: I am only interested in dating a guy who loves and is following Jesus. So if you aren’t, then no I will not give you my number.
I leave the room, a few seconds later he acosts me while I am standing with a couple friends.
Guy: So when can I take you on a date?
Me: Um.. well..
Me: No I will not go on a date with you. I am really serious about the only wanting to date a guy who loves Jesus thing.
Guy: I’m not a Christian but I can pretend to be for you. (or something like that.. it was getting funny and desperate by then and my friend was looking like she wanted to die laughing overhearing this).
Guy: I want to ask you questions! I have to get to know you.
Me: No it doesn’t work that way. I am only interested in finding a guy who is really serious about following Jesus.
Me: If you want to ask me questions, you can come to the places I salsa dance with my friends. Here these are my friends Chris and Megan, they are dance teachers. You can ask me any questions there, but not on a date. <introductions made.. Megan doing a mildly okay job holding in her laughter)
Guy: Why won’t you go on a date with me?
Me: I don’t like to lead guys on. I like to be straightforward with people.
Guy: So do you find me attractive?
Me: You are not getting me, I find what a guys relation to Jesus is one of the most attractive things about him so if you aren’t following Jesus, then no.
Guy: So about me physically. Are you attracted to me?
Me: You are missing hearing what I am saying.
Guy: Girl! With a body like yours I just HAVE to take you on a date!
Me: See I am actually interested in finding a guy who cares about my heart as much as just what I look like.
I finally dismiss myself because this is clearly getting no where and he is getting agitated.
Later that evening I walk past him again and said a kind hello to acknowledge him, he ignored me, and simultaneously quite rudely and purposefully knocked into my shoulder nearly throwing me off balance and didn’t apologize.
Way to sweep a girl off her feet.
1.) Be only interested in what a girl looks like. (We can pick up on this)
2.) Ignore what she is saying.
3.) Don’t listen to her (especially what she says is important).
4.) Be rude.
5.) A girl is a body and not a person after all.
6.) Aim for getting a date like a rugby player plowing through a field of violent men for points and not like we are gentle women with hearts and feelings and emotions or anything of the sort.
7.) Don’t entertain us with laughter, anything of character, find out about our interests or who we are as a person.
8.) Only care about one thing.
9.) Treat us like objects.
10.) Show us your true character by treating us without dignity when we say no.