Archive for July, 2012

 

The hardest part of pursuing life as an artist is certainly focus.  We feel as if we were born to create and it’s always imperative to get it done when inspiration hits.  Sigh–it’s the day job that gets in the way sometimes.  So how do you endure until the wee hours after midnight to pursue your craft?

Simply put, you wait.  You have to focus on the task at hand, the same way you do when you’re painting the next masterpiece or composing a new song.  You already know spending “eight to ten in the pen” (hours in the cubicle) has a buzz-killing effect on inspiration.  Wait long enough, and you’ll be completely blocked once you finally have free time to create.  I’ve done that.  Sit down at the computer.  Type the word, “The”.  Yep, on some nights that’s all she wrote—quite literally.

On a beautiful day, it feels unbearable knowing mere yards away from your place of enslavement employment,  life is happening all around you!  Cars honk, buses and taxis buzz by, and pretty people are sipping lattes and eating attractive food at nearby cafes while you furiously attempt to meet deadlines imposed by others.  Wealthy execs are swinging the club on the greens during a working lunch, and others are sipping chardonnay while eating their tuna nicoise salads with friends before their redecorating appointment.   Playgrounds are a buzz with summer activity with moms and dads that are spending the day with them!

I just want to live!  If only I could live you think!  There has to be more than this in life!  You quickly remind yourself of the bills that demand you stay put, and the disaster that would ensue if you suddenly said, “take this job and…..”   Well you know the rest.

Moments like this call for super human mental strength!  They call for:

Sitzfleisch!

Sitzfleisch is German and means both these things simultaneously:

  1.  A person’s buttocks
  2. The ability to endure or persist at a task, to sit through or tolerate something boring.

Another way of saying it is, “Sit your butt down and get it done.”  Why do I hear the sound of a teacher’s voice in my head as I write this?

I know.  Work life can sap the life right out of you sometimes.  I’m trying these days to persist at writing–something I hope to eventually do professionally .  Right now is the hardest part.  This is the time that the discipline of practice and patience to persevere when you’d rather be doing other things is required.

See most of life is like this.  We’re over here wishing we were somewhere out there. 

Ain’t happening.  Nope.  We’re called to suck it up and deal. 

I have a favorite bible verse related to patience:

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.  Psalm 40:1

This sentiment is nailed perfectly in the U2 song “40”.  How long, Lord?  How long?

How long must we endure a long day at a job that’s well…..ho-hum, but it pays the bills?

How long do we put up with an unbearable situation or injustice?

How long do we live not in “our truth” but in “others’ expectations of us?”

God may appear silent, but that doesn’t mean He’s unaware.  I’ve never known the answer to “How long?”  I only know the response is to be patient and endure at the task at hand.

  • Finish the job you are doing right here, right now, first!
  • Try and endure the hard thing that feels like it may swallow you with grace and prayer as you wait.

Being patient requires we release control of the situation.  Enduring our task demands that we cross the finish line.  We don’t quit or give up when our circumstances or our feelings seem hopeless.  We trust as the answers are still fleshing themselves out.

God rewards our faith and our patience.   Stand firm.  Have faith.  Finish what you start.      Your day will come.  Until then…..sitzfleisch!!

 

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Can a commercial structure be massive in size, modern in its use of technology, and harmonious with the people that inhabit it or come in contact with it?  Frank Lloyd Wright coined the idea of such a structure in his book The Natural House in 1954 as seeing the whole of life, not just serving it and “not cherishing any preconceived form fixing upon us either past, present or future, but instead exalting the simple laws of common sense or of super-sense if you prefer determining form by way of the nature of materials.”

Architect and planner David Pearson proposed a list of rules towards the design of organic architecture. These rules are known as the Gaia Charter for organic architecture and design (Pearson, David (2001). The Breaking Wave: New Organic Architecture (Stroud: Gaia), p. 72)  It reads:

“Let the design:

  • Be inspired by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving, and diverse.
  • Unfold, like an organism, from the seed within.
  • Exist in the “continuous present” and “begin again and again”.
  • Follow the flows and be flexible and adaptable.
  • Satisfy social, physical, and spiritual needs.
  • “Grow out of the site” and be unique.
  • Celebrate the spirit of youth, play and surprise.
  • Express the rhythm of music and the power of dance

U2 360 – Barcelona  Photocredit:  U2station.com

A little bit of Wiki research explains this concept perfectly, but if you were lucky enough to see U2 360 in tour between 2009 and 2011, then you actually have now experienced an “organically constructed” concert.  The technological genius of the engineers and the design team is truly an engineering marvel.  You, one of 60,000 or 80,000 or more people can have a seat anywhere in a U2 360 concert, and yet you feel the entire concert is constructed specifically for you in this space and time.

Once the stadium lights switch off and “The Claw” commences concert ignition with light and sound, you know you are about to be transported into something like you’ve never seen or heard before.  Almost holographically, the band members quickly appear one by one, adding sound and volume as each one enters.  Then with perfect acoustic clarity, the music starts.

Immediately, the crowd is plugged in and singing, taking millions of frames per second of video.  It’s going live via satellite all over the world as they play live.  No cameras allowed?  Pffftttt!    Until smartphones are banned, the pics and vids keep clicking. It’s a genius marketing strategy, but it’s also brilliant because each person experiences and records and shares the event in a way that is meaningful for them.  Some people want to remember it digitally, others are content just to experience it and remember it only in their mind.  Most do a little of both; each way leaves people content.

For me, a U2 concert meets every criteria of the Gaia Charter, with perhaps the biggest stretch being “inspired by nature.”  But a claw is certainly part of nature, even if a spaceship is not.    It started with the Edge sketching a design on a cocktail napkin and that’s organic enough for me!  Our dreams and how we bring them about it about the most organic thing about us, this ability to create something “ex nihilo” (out of nothing) from what resides solely within us.

Just as U2’s music seems to know no limits in the diversity of direction they take musically, it has now been equally complimented by their design of structure during this tour.  In my humble opinion, it is unmatched by any other band in touring history.  The sheer engineering process of this band, whether it is the individual component or group construction of their songs, or the design process and creation of their concert environment, U2 pushes the envelope of risk and reward to its outer limits.

Watching the setup, the tasks the vast stage crew perform right before the show, and then the immediate and rapid tear down that begins seconds after the final encore, you realize you are watching a perfect and intricately choreographed team that prepared and rehearsed for months.  Much like the band itself!  Merging an ever increasing complex technology with their sound so that it blends in with nature is the true gift of the experience!

You are under an open sky in a giant stadium and you quickly become acutely aware that you are connected not to devices, but to the diversity of all of Earth’s people. If you weren’t aware of people and their plight and redemption in other continents, you are now.  If you didn’t know the person beside you, you probably do now.  You see light of every color, wavelength and degree of brilliance.  You hear a depth of undistorted sound and clarity unknown to you before now; it makes you want to crawl into it!  Their music is becoming part of who you are. 

  U2 does more than just entertain us, they challenge us to rethink, maybe even change part of our individual and collective consciousness to be more aware of our surroundings.  We’re all at a different place in our life.  Possibly for some, it’s just a really good show, and for that I’m sure Team U2 is very grateful.  For me, and many like me, it’s more;  and for that we leave grateful.  We don’t feel as if we just consumed something, but that for a slice of time, we were all part of something bigger than ourself.

It’s obvious the sweat equity, heart and soul that goes into U2’s creative process.  For me and many others, it satisfies the social, physical, and spiritual needs we carry to connect with people, God, and our universe.  That’s the undeniable magic that often happens between U2 and their fans.

Bono has said he’s not convinced music will change the world.  I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree, but I know this—it’s a good place to start if you wish to find joy and peace within, light it, and then take it out into the world.  I hope you do.

For a fascinating look at the design and construction process of U2 360 this is a great video to watch:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAIvvx9MFBs&feature=related

Happy 94th Birthday Nelson!

Yesterday was Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday!  No one has been more effective  in righting the injustices of apartheid in South Africa.  God took note and after 27 years in captivity, he was released from prison in 1990.  He is known today as the Father of South Africa and a voice of freedom worldwide.

Read more about his 94th birthday here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18884590

Liz will happily be on vacation for a few days, so no posts.  Hope you can find time today and count all the many ways you have been blessed!!  See you soon!

Video:  Bono: A Conversation about Christianity

Who do you follow?  Click on Faces on Facebook, blogs, websites, YouTube, people, pets, places, ideas, or ideologies and chances are there’s a LIKE, SHARE, or FOLLOW button attached to it.

I’m a bit of a U2 fan.  OK, maybe too much so sometimes.  It’s just that I really in truly love their music more than ANYTHING else around.  It’s just me, my personal preferences.  Besides the technical genius of the Edge, the backbone and muscle found in Larry and Adam, you’d have to be fairly unaware in life to not know the lead singer and some say heart of the band is—Bono.  Even that’s debatable because most U2 fans know what makes the band endure through the decades is that each member is absolutely vital to the other.  Bono just happens to be the person in front.

A year ago today I met Bono.  I just happened to be in NYC, a place I’ve only been to three times in my life.  He just happened to be at the Letterman Theater outside my hotel on my last day in NYC.  I didn’t know U2 was in town, even more, just outside my hotel across the street a few feet away.   I found out randomly when I overheard another hotel patron telling her friend that they were in town.

I ran across the street and tried to get Letterman tickets.  I waited in line, interviewed, and didn’t get picked.  I left and did some sightseeing with my adult daughter in Battery Park.   We came back, and I went to the theater one more time where Letterman was filming.  Everyone had showed up.  There were no extra tickets; I was told I didn’t need to stay.  I knew Bono and The Edge were inside.  I wanted to meet them; I wanted to meet Bono!

I was beside myself with excitement. I sort of felt like a cross between the swooning moms who fainted over Elvis during my childhood and young teens who camp out and fast for days for a change to meet “The Bieb-ster”.   I ran back to my hotel to change and brush my hair.  I was determined to find a way.  Then I started calming down.  Then I started crying.  What’s wrong with me?

HE’S ONLY A MAN

Suddenly, there was a fire drill only on our floor.  I had to evacuate anyway.  I thought maybe, just maybe I’d go downstairs one last time and see if anything was going on in the back of the theater around the corner.  God?  What are you trying to tell me?

He’s only a man my child.  He’s definitely not Jesus.  He’s Bono, but at the end of the day, he’s still a man.

I quit running.  I started walking instead.  I told God something important:  I know!

So I surrendered.  If it was meant to be—fine.  If not, I could live with that.  Only four days prior, I had driven from this same hotel to see U2 in Philadelphia.  It was my third and best U2 concert of all.  Don’t be greedy with your blessings Liz!

I got there in the nick of time.  I had a blast and made some quick connections with other U2 fans; or as I sometimes say, “I found MY people!”

The backdoors opened.  Out walked the Edge and then Bono.  Then it happened.  I met Bono!  I wasn’t shaking.  I wasn’t falling down. I was able to speak coherently.   He’s just a man.  But for a brief second in time, I saw his eyes and perhaps he saw mine.  I told him to tell Nelson Mandela Happy Birthday.  I found out later, he was on his way to have lunch with him, but I didn’t know that at the time.  I wasn’t inside the theater when they were taping.  I just knew.  Because sometimes our souls just know.  I knew how close they are, and I remembered the audience singing Happy Birthday to Nelson at Bono’s request four days earlier in Philadelphia.

Then he said what I still refer to as just one word:  Yeah!!!!!

Yeah (YES)!   YES is such an affirmative word.  It may sound cliché, but I knew in my heart that day, it was time for me to start saying yes to pursuing some dreams I’ve carried around for a while.  It was as if God was whispering,

Your dreams can be a reality!  Why do you even doubt?

 Not because I met Bono, but because sometimes God just comes down and blesses you with something amazing, that you didn’t deserve, that you wouldn’t have seen coming in your wildest imagination.

At the end of the day, and the whole of my life, I am a U2 fan to the core, especially Bono.  But I actually follow WHO he follows.  I think that’s why I and millions of other fans connect so deeply.   It’s more than even U2’s great music.  It’s their connection to those that suffer in this world and making us not just aware, but challenging us to do.   To start where you are, and to branch out, that is the key.

Yes I’m a fan of U2, so I’ve hit my fill of LIKE buttons and commented volumes.

But I FOLLOW Christ, not perfectly, but absolutely, and that’s something I really want to SHARE.    Christ forgives, redeems, saves, loves, challenges, and changes us IF we let him.  Only God knows what plans He has for you though we’re guaranteed a few things as we go:  tragedy, triumph, love, loss.  So how do we survive it all?

Love.  Pray.  Hope.  Persevere.  Trust.

I’m many things—a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer.  I’m a fan of U2.  I’m a follower of Jesus—like my brother Paul, we are ONE in Christ. And that’s reason to REJOICE!

NOTE:  I’ve read these quotes.  They can be found in these books, great reads for U2 fans regarding Bono’s views and struggles in his faith walk.

 

Signs and Wonders (Do You Feel Loved?)

Posted: July 18, 2012 in Faith, God, Love
Tags: , , ,

How many of us lift up a simple prayer sometimes and ask for a sign.  Just give me a sign Lord!  So, a few days ago when I was driving to the beach, I saw this sign by the side of the road.  Simple.  To the point.  What was it advertising?  I didn’t see anything else beside it.   Oh come on, someone doesn’t just pay for those words and not advertise a product!   Well, somebody did.

There has to be a story here, I thought to myself as I made two consecutive  180° degree turns in my van, just so I could digitally encapsulate forever this profound message.  Simple, yet profound.

Somebody cared enough to put these words on a billboard.  Somebody thought you needed to know.  Who in your life needs to be told?  The long term girl friend you kind of take for granted?  The wife you’ve known for fifty years who already knows you do—you’re long past having to say it?  What about the mother who you haven’t called in over a year?  The daughter you’ve been estranged from and you’re too chicken to call?    The friend who you let down?

Maybe there’s a him that needs to hear it just as well.  Who says men don’t need to hear it?  Maybe it’s your child or teenager.  Just because they have an attitude doesn’t mean they don’t long for it.  Either way, if YOU ARE HERE, then maybe this is your moment, your sign.

Love has two parts:

  1. Do
  2. Say

Do!  Actions speak louder than words and hopefully your actions are leaving heavy carbon footprints in the heart of those you love.  It’s the little gestures that count, the sweet notes, the surprise call, the dinner on the roof she wasn’t expecting, mowing your elderly neighbor’s yard, taking your daughter fishing, and a thousand other things you can easily think once you decide you’ve got the time.

Say!  Actions may speak louder, but words are the shadows of these deeds.  Love is the loudest whisper ever spoken, if it is said true.  Love is what you wear or omit when you go out in the world.  Love is what you broadcast when you speak, write, sing, or create.   It’s a feeling, yes, but so much more.  It’s an action, a decision, and it’s never static.  Love always leaves a mark.

Do you feel loved?

It’s so simple actually.  Start with something you do.  Then follow it up with something you say.  Trust God with the results.  Listen to good music.  Take note of things that are beautiful.  Appreciate life!   Pray.   Be patient and show kindness.  Let love be your outward habit towards others.

You are here.  You are not lost.  You are worthy of giving and receiving love.   Go forward smiling with a song in your heart and with God’s blessing.

You too are loved!

And I feel loved
Do you feel loved
Do you feel loved
And it looks like the sun
But it feels like rain
And there’s heat in the sun
To see us through the rain

Do you feel loved
Do you feel loved
Do you feel loved

“Do You Feel Loved?” – U2

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.    If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.    If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.    It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

What is it about a beach sunrise that trumps a regular sunrise?  Yesterday morning I had my feet propped up on a deck rail, a warm coffee in my hand, two sweet dogs laying by my side, and watching the ocean on the horizon.

Such sweet relief!   Our souls often feel weathered due to the storms we’re forced to endure. We learn:

Change is the only constant we navigate by

Waves continuously change and crash, but the sea and the mysterious laws that govern it are eternally constant. I sat there vaguely pondering  this, but mostly I was trance like in a state of non-thought.

Then my dear friend of twenty years came out with a plate of delicious fresh garden tomatoes grown with the help of her hands and love for gardening.  We sipped our coffee as we watched the sea.  “Look!” she said.  “Dolphins!”    A pair of dolphins were swimming just past the waves’ breaking  point parallel to the shore line.

I rarely stay at such quiet beaches, so I had yet to see dolphins at sunrise.  I’ve hoped for it on many trips, but never got to see them with my own eyes–until yesterday.

It’s real, I thought.  I never saw dolphins swim at sunrise before, not because they didn’t exist or I wasn’t looking hard enough, but because it wasn’t my time to see.  Prayers are answered in God’s time, not ours.

There is nothing like the ocean that seems to settle our faith and our doubts between the temporary and the eternal  like watching the ocean for an extended period of time.  Our soul is soothed as we watch the ocean free from life’s pressures, distractions, noise, and rampant thoughts that compete for our attention.    Ah, to just watch the ocean with a truly open mind, and without awareness of time passing.

See God has planted the seed of eternity in every man’s heart.  It’s hard not to love the sea whose every breaking wave crashes onto shore, only to return softly back to itself.    From a distance it’s so beautiful.  But if you are standing at the waves’ breaking point, all you hear is loudness and feel its fury.  You certainly feel the power if you attempt to stand there.  Fixing your feet here is impossible.  But a few yards ahead or behind the breaking point, all is calm.

Our lives are exactly like that.  The storms come.   The circumstances come in bulk and threaten to pull us under.  We are standing at the breaking point where it’s loud, and we’re unsteady on our feet.  We see the shore and we see the horizon, but in the midst of the breaking point’s fury, we can’t seem to move further out to sea or return to shore.

Yes, viewing the ocean from the distance of being across the street, I had a wider and quieter view then when lying on the sand only a few feet from where the tide comes in.  I look at the sea from this distance and feel nothing but peace from the top of my head to the tips of my toes still sugared in bits of yesterday’s sand.  All is well with the world—or at least, in this moment, in mine.

Yet I know this same sea has blanketed fury on coastal cities in time past.  It’s destroyed property and taken lives.  Untold thousands have drawn their last breath of air before succumbing to the ocean’s depths.    Boats and ships sink.  Storms come.  People drown.   My worst sea nightmare would be of being stranded in a life boat, dying of thirst, yet wondering if I’d be rescued.

Yesterday I watched dolphins swim across the ocean.  Somewhere else in the world, in this very same sea, somebody else was on a sinking boat fighting to stay alive.  At their moment of peril, did dolphins cease to exist?  While I marveled at the magnificence of dolphins, did I not care for the person struggling in the sea just because I didn’t see them or know of it?

Our circumstances, perspectives, beliefs, and geography separate us, yet we are still united in our humanity.  When one suffers, humanity suffers even when others are not aware.  Thankfully, God sees the big picture of our lives with an ultra-wide angle lens—a perspective we can’t conceive.  It is not constrained by width or depth or time.   God is able to see both these moments, and every moment and every one.

I want to have and maintain peace like I did yesterday morning.  Can we have daily peace, even though there is continual chaos in the world, even in our own lives? If so, how God?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:5-8

This is one of the hardest and truest bible verses to me.  We are told that it is our doubts that blow our lives all around, sometimes to bits!  Our circumstances and our emotions toss us in such a way we can’t find True North, we can’t navigate our way home.   We get pulled between other peoples’ words to us and expectations of us and our feelings towards it all.   We don’t find solutions, because we don’t believe we will.

We get tossed by each event that threatens to overtake us, simply because we’re out of control.  We already know that in many circumstances, the control was never ours to possess anyway.    Still we fight the Captain of our soul for command of the wheel.  Sometimes our own mutiny is the real cause of our undoing.

It’s been said that seeing is believing.  But the real truth is believing is seeing. 

Would I have believed in dolphins had I never seen them at sunrise yesterday?  Of course!  I’ve known dozens of people who have already seen them; I’d seen them on TV and pictures.  That’s a no-brainer.  Everyone knows dolphins exist.

But God?  That’s another matter.  It can be hard to either believe God exists or that He actually is good or cares for you or the world that you live in.  How could God care or be good when there are storms such as wars, disease, famine , poverty, injustice,  and cruelty inflicted on living beings that God breathed life into in the first place?  Are those people or creatures less valuable to God then we are?  Of course not!  Then why?

WHY is the question we don’t have the luxury of asking.  When we do, our brain is limited in the answers it provides.  We can’t find rationale for pain or unfairness; our limited explanations don’t satisfy.   That dissatisfaction breeds doubt, and the cycle of being tossed about commences.

WHY is the universal question whose answer is like the sea.  It rises up, and then rolls back out.  We think we almost know sometimes; we think we have our lives figured out.    Then the storms come.

We have to trust in our faith that assures WHO, and not the knowledge that seeks to explain WHY.  Don’t allow waves of doubt to take your truth back to sea.

Man tries to explain his life and events, and the most brilliant, pedigreed people still fail miserably.   Life is a mystery.   The question is can you be at peace and NOT have answers sometimes?

I hope so.  That’s faith—being comfortable in not knowing the outcome or why.   If we can choose to live our lives as mirrors, so that our words and deeds reflect  light and love, rather than a telescope that tries to see and explain time and circumstance—that’s visionIf we can choose to love God and believe he exists, even though life isn’t fair, that’s true freedom.  Doing these things diminishes doubts, until they eventually die.

We don’t get to choose the location, timing, or severity of our storms.  We only can decide on who is in charge of our ship that sails over every breaking wave.  Choose well so that you can navigate safely.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

 

Every breaking wave
On the shore
Tells  the next one there’ll be one more

I don’t know if I’m that strong
I don’t know if I’m that strong
Don’t know if I’m that strong
To be somebody
To need someone……….

……..The waves know
We’re on the rocks
Drowning is no sin

You know
That my heart
Is the same place yours has been

(Partial Lyrics—U2 –Every Breaking Wave)

 

 

     Image

Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.  ~Marsha Norman     

  So I’m having a totally stressed out day and I can’t put my finger on the cause exactly.  I had the day off work, and enjoyed spending the afternoon with my little boy and my mom.   We even treated ourselves to a yummy lunch at the restaurant where my daughter works.  You know the kind, where the food is a Renoir painting that you’re almost sad to eat.  We got great service; she got a grandmother-sized tip, we had a nice meal, and everyone was happy.  I was.

      Until I got home that is.  That’s when a dark cloud rolled in.  Knowing the rest of the week I have to work and even a precious day off still involves laundry, dishes, bills, paperwork, email, organizing, grocery shopping, cleaning bathrooms.   It seems these chores that seemingly never end and never cross a finish line continuously plague me.   I so want to be grateful for the mundane moments of life, not just the magnificent ones.  I struggle with the repetitiveness of reality I guess.   What should be easy is hard because it endlessly repeats.

       So on dreary rainy days like today, all I really want is to go to my HAPPY PLACE.   I realize for everyone it’s different but for me, it really is being in a crowd at a U2 concert as close to the front as possible.   For folks that aren’t U2 fans or haven’t seen them in concert it’s nearly impossible to describe. 

      The only way I can describe it is a cross between a rock concert and a service in a beautiful cathedral, peppered with some mind-blowing technology.  Your eyes and ears are in sensory-heaven!  Everyone around you will seem like the happiest people on the planet.  That’s because they are!  At least, for the moment!

      People that are shy, people with bad singing voices and smiling bright faces will all sing and sound beautiful in unison.  It’s for one simple reason.  U2 simply puts on the best concert out there.  The band, the audience, and the music just kind of meld together into some kind of surreal atmosphere that can only be described as magic!  You WILL forget you ever had worries in the first place.   

       Perhaps the biggest take away lesson I learned from my three and only three U2 concerts is this:

I want to dream out loud!

     Yes, full-out dreaming out loud in Technicolor and 3D surround sound! 

      Here me right, this isn’t just, “Oh I have a fantasy that if life were perfect I’d (fill in the blank)”   No! Dreaming out loud requires a game plan, a plan that requires time, discipline, and action.

     The thing is we all work, and most of us if asked if we liked what we do would say, “Um, it’s okay” with as much enthusiasm as we can muster.  Remember, most jobs last for years, yes, decades even!  Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and are exactly right where you should be and you wouldn’t change a thing.  If so, good for you, and keep doing what works for you.  Yet maybe you’ve got something scratching your brain that there is something more in the plans for you, but what exactly??.

Am I bugging you?  I don’t mean to bug ya!

   If you’re feeling any of the same symptoms, don’t panic.  It’s not necessarily a mid-life crisis.  It may just be the seeds of creativity or change are starting to bloom somewhere inside of you, and you’re desperately trying to find water.  

       Going to a U2 show under a U2 open sky will do this weird thing to you.  It will make you want to be more than you are.  It will make you want to get lost in the sound and come out with a need to do or create:

Take a paintbrush to canvass

Write words

Build something amazing

Take a picture like no one’s ever seen

Sculpt something with your hands

Run a marathon

Climb a mountain

See other people in other cultures and countries

Help another human in a way you’ve never done before

      What is your dream?  Are you working on it?  Even U2 started out as four young boys in Larry Mullen’s kitchen in Dublin after he put up a flyer looking to start a band.     The rest as they say is history.

      But it started with a dream—a  dream that the whole team worked at, honed their skills together and separately, studied, failed sometimes– but always with a refusal to quit, and a willingness and open mind to go in new directions, to follow where the Spirit leads.

       I say, leave fear behind, step into the sound, and go towards the light and then magnify all that is waiting for you to behold.  Go ahead; dream out loud!

 

You are invited to the Happy Place.  Enter here: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJBjCHEd0Dw

 

 

I am going to go way out on a limb here, but hope you will stick with me to the end.  I want to ask you something.

How deep do you want to be loved?

      I’m also going to be unashamedly real in my answer.   THIS MUCH!  No, I take that back, even more!  For fans of U2, this song certainly has such a life of its own and certainly connects with people spiritually—yes, men like it too, not just women.   U2 has said its “goal is soul” and this chart-smasher proves it.

Let me talk about something else though.  Sometimes a person just can’t deliver the goods.  Not your mate; not a rock star, not your best friend, not even yourself, no one!    The thing is we are human, and thus limited by our humanity.

In our most giving capacity, we can’t totally be the very thing that someone else needs or wants from us, or more painful, we are capable, but we willingly hold back.  Yet the most painful of all, is even if we love with all of our soul and being, we still fall short, because of this one simple fact:

We can’t sustain it. Time promises this.

     We can’t sustain the intensity because we are constrained by time; the best moments can’t last.  Those perfect moments in life are also the cruelest because they don’t and can’t last, and some of us chase them until the end of our life, trying to recapture or recreate them in all their significance and magnificence, in the way we perceive beauty.  Yes, sometimes we need it like a drug.

Herein lies love’s curse:  I can’t live—with or without you.

       Hear me right.  This goes beyond sex or friendship or passion or reason.  It cuts right to the core of who we truly are.   It’s the deepest part of our soul that can almost seem misunderstood by others. We can’t even form the words that describe our desire for this love, this way to be loved.

Perhaps the closest word is perfect.  We want perfect love delivered perfectly!  No drama, no conditions, no expectation, just pure and perfect love.  This is the dilemma of our lives as we chase what we never had, what we thought we once had, or fight to maintain what we appear to have (if only to us).

Like the song says, “we give ourselves away.”  Indeed.  We give ourselves away as we work and we live and we do—everyday.  The sands in our hourglass fall a little bit faster each day.  Most of us push ourselves constantly past expectations—both of ourselves and others.  Still, it’s not enough.  In our most satisfied moments, we want just a little bit more.

This weekend I watched a mom and her children I’ve known for years bury their dad and husband.  You didn’t have to be their best friend, to grasp the depth of their loss.  The rawness of their fresh pain ripped everyone.  We all want to do something to spare them from this; we can’t.   It’s because on earth, we can’t keep it.   Either way the best love will eventually be stripped from our open arms or our clenched fingers.  That’s why we don’t need to manipulate, control, trick, smother, beg, or insist for another to love us perfectly.    That only insures us they won’t or can’t.

Believe me my heart struggles with this, but my head knows this:  Another human being can’t love you deep enough or long enough.  There has to be more.

There is.  God steps in.  Yes, God–the be all and end all of the perfect love we crave.  This too is hard, because we’re walking and loving not by sight, but by faith.    We’re walking and loving by truth and promises, not by what we feel.  That’s a heavy thought, but a freeing reality that makes our burdens lighter to carry.

Somewhere in the heart of all us, if we’re honest, is the little boy or little girl who just wants to be held, to be pulled in close, and to be looked in the eye so deeply you can see our heart.  We want affirmation that we are good, we are loveable, and that it is seen by someone bigger than us.

U2, both their music and especially their front man Bono, seem to master this “soul-connect” with people by expanding the invisible thread that connects our hearts to one another.  The truest, ok maybe the sanest, of U2 fans know this:   It’s not about Bono or the band or even the amazing music itself, it’s the love that comes from a higher power, and they’re just fellow travelers like us, mere humans, who allow it to pass through via music, lyrics, and most of all— heart.

Every good song, concert, moment, or relationship concludes.  So what’s left?

God’s love is the cure.  It transcends space and time and imperfection on our part.    We just have to get our head and our heart around it sometimes.  May you travel light, find your song to sing, love people, and live well!

 

For me, I take it on faith that perfect love exists because there is a God, He is good, and He loves us.  There are some of my favorite scriptures on love and faith:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrew 11:1

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  Romans 8:24

There is no fear where love exists. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ISV)

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Ephesians 3:19

On July 4th I published my post (Out of Control) Freak.   I woke up that day, wrote, and got on with my day making plans for July 4th with friends and family.  It seemed like another day, with the added bonus of being off work in the middle of the week.   I didn’t know the world was crumbling, changing form only a few feet from my home.

In the middle of the afternoon, the hundred degree heat sat thick and heavy on the ground. The sky grew black.  An explosion of thunder crashed as if a bomb went off.  Severe lightening and a pounding rain assaulted the heat.  Though it was ominous outside, I felt safe and secure in the comfort of my little world at home, near the half of family that was here and I prayed for my half that wasn’t here.

It appeared as if all was ok in my world, save for the barrage of fire trucks, police, and ambulances that began to flood our neighborhood.  I was busy writing and didn’t know only a block away, a fellow neighbor’s home was burning to the ground.   They were on vacation as their house perished in flames and smoke.  I also didn’t know that just over my fence, my neighbor of seventeen years got the dreaded phone call we beg God to spare us from:

I’m sorry; there’s been an accident.    Your husband was killed.

       Struck was the word used.   Yet he died as he lived; he was in the middle of doing something he loved.  He went for an afternoon ride on his bike before they were to leave for the beach.  What happens in a single hour?

  • A man who’s pedaled thousands of miles is struck by a truck in the middle of his ride.
  • Gawkers flood our street and follow plumes of smoke to see what is happening.
  • Pyrotechnicians are busy fusing fireworks on a platform while preparing for possible rain.
  • A neighbor rings my doorbell.  My writing time is interrupted.
  • Why isn’t my daughter back from work yet?
  • My friend is finishing packing bags and coolers when the telephone rings.
  • I want to finish my tasks so I can enjoy fireworks in a few hours.
  • Paramedics desperately try to save a man who was hit while riding his bike.
  • Thunder explodes.  Lightening crashes.  Then the rain comes.
  • It’s just another day.  It never is. 

Control of our lives is always an illusion.  I grieve for the moments I’ve lost due to anger, resentment, or frustration where I didn’t have control.   I wish I could take back moments I made the wrong choice or said words I shouldn’t have.  I wish I could freeze time and stay in the moments that were beautiful:  The moment you hold your new baby for the first time, the moments when you intensely loved and were loved, the sweet moment your child hugs your neck and jumps up on you.   We can’t; we’re out of control.

In life, sadly we get no do-overs.  We don’t get to remake yesterday; we only create today.  I found out by watching the evening news, something I rarely do anymore.  I felt sick, but prayed for courage and walked over in the rain to see my neighbor yesterday.   We shared quite a few conversations over the years.  We watched as new babies were born, and chatted when the kids played at the pool.  For years I smiled when I would wash dishes at my sink and watch her three rambunctious boys play with their dog and their dad outside my window.

Now there’s a good family I’d think.  They lived, and they worked, and they loved.  They loved Jesus, had cook outs, threw the Frisbee to the dog, and made plans for their future.  But they didn’t make this one.

In a few hours, I’ll be sitting in a church, most likely crying with hundreds of other friends and family members I do not know.  I’m sad and stunned by the loss of a great neighbor.   I can’t even begin to comprehend their loss of a father and husband who was cherished.

I only know this:  They are not alone.   When I went to visit yesterday, the house was full.  Full of comforting friends, grieving grandmothers, crawling babies, church ladies making food, and a sad dog wondering why all the people but no papa.  I walked in, and my newly widowed neighbor was laughing.  Laughing!  She was briefly in a happy moment as she was showing pictures to relatives.  This made me cry.  I knew when she turned around, there I’d be, another face with tears that kept repeating and confirming: It’s real.  It happened.  He’s gone.  I’m so sorry.

Hugs and tears were exchanged.  My feeble words were compensated for by God’s loving grace.  I was astounded by this mom’s great faith, for these dark hours where she stands and greets people warmly, clasps their hands and repeatedly says, “thank you.”  I reel at the unfairness of life.  I want to take this from her and spare her loving sons.  I can’t.  I have zero control.  They are going to walk through this anyway.

This is the moment we live our faith.  How do we respond when we go through what we didn’t ask for and once we are made aware of what someone else is going through?   I don’t know exactly; I know I can only start with this:  I pray.  I ask for wisdom, grace, comfort, and time to give these things.  I thank God for time we share with family, friends, neighbors, even when it’s brief.   I beg God for mercy and ask for all needs to be met.  I ask for this family to be surrounded by lots and lots of love, especially the long days ahead.

Every moment is indeed a gift; it really is a present.  I pray today that you can unwrap the love and then give it away.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:1-2

Though our grief is devastating, God’s grace truly is amazing.

 

We go through our days and tasks and relationships  and in each moment, it seems we gravitate towards one of two extremes:

Fear or Faith

      Joyce Meyer, a favorite Christian author of mine, teaches that fear is actually an acronym:

False Evidence Appearing Real

      It’s true.   So often we look at the situations of our lives and size each one up in terms of what might happen or what probably will happen.  It’s so easy to become paralyzed mentally that we are then rendered immobile with our feet.  We are afraid to face the difficult person or situation that lies in front of us.  This plague of doubt and worry of what could happen freezes us in our tracks.  We lie dormant, as if standing still somehow will allow it all to pass over us, or pass by.

It never works.  Sooner or later that difficult confrontation happens anyway.  The hard thing you’ve been avoiding still arrives.  Though you can’t prepare for every possible outcome, there is a better way to deal mentally and spiritually.  That is to face it with faith.

I hope you have it or can find it!  I have not searched for an acronym on faith.  But I have one of my own; it’s this:

Fully Allow It To Happen

      Yes, fully allow “it” to happen.  Whatever “it” is in your life.   It could be the impending death you know is coming in your family.  It could be the relationship you see ending.  It could be the job you know it’s time to give up.  But it could also be the miracles that are just around the corner, awaiting your signal to arrive.  How you ask?  By surrendering!  Surrender having to know the outcome, and instead walking with feet that go and a heart that trusts.  Live your life confidently knowing God is in control, and you don’t have to be.

And when you don’t feel it, pray it anyway.  When those prayers appear to be floating around aimlessly in the atmosphere, then remember this:  They are not.  Your prayers are being heard.  The answer is already there.  Every time you feel like you are going through something alone, you are not.   For there just may be at this very moment, a friend, an angel, a stranger unknown by you, who is praying for you and what you are dealing with.    If not, then I pray you know in the pit of your soul, there is indeed a God, a good and loving God who holds you in the palm of His hand and is working out your situation, ultimately to the good.

God’s confirmation of good and love is everywhere:  Mountains, sky, a baby’s smile, a flower in bloom, a hug, a dog who looks up to you, beautiful music.  God sings and says and shines and pours out so much love on us every day.   I pray you see it, take hold of it, and let it multiply in all you give away.   Find the truth, beauty, and love in your life and follow God’s lead.    Life is so good, so rich; may your faith prove itself and make it so.